A friend recently shared a Facebook post listing 11 names and ages.
“R.I.P. Justin Allen 23, Brett Linley 29, Matthew Weikert 29, Justus Bartett 27, Dave Santos 21, Jesse Reed 26, Matthew Johnson 21, Zachary Fisher 24, Brandon King 23, Christopher Goeke 23, and Sheldon Tate 27,” it said. “All are Marines who gave their lives this week for you. There's no media for them ... not even a mention of their names. We’re too busy talking about trying to get ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ off of the radio. Please honor them by copying and pasting this post.”
Actually, all 11 men were among the 12 killed in Afghanistan during a single week in July 2010. According to the fact-checking site Snopes.com, the post initially listed all 12 names, but for some reason, the name of Chase Stanley was dropped from the list.
Snopes says only two of the men were actually Marines. One, Brett Linley, was a sergeant in the British Army. The rest were in the U.S. Army.
Who knows what inspired the original post. Perhaps it really was an effort to bring attention to a dozen men who had made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.
In one version, the post contrasted the attention given to these fallen heroes with the attention given to actress Lindsay Lohan. Lohan, at the time, was in the news because of her struggles with substance abuse.
To give you an idea of how long this post has been making the rounds, it lists Lohan’s age as 24 — she’s now 32.
Certainly these men deserve our respect and admiration, but why drag them into a fight over a Christmas song? Why take these deaths from more than eight years ago and present them as having happened this week?
What inspires anyone to do that? Does such a person get mad about some current issue and decide, “Hey, I know: I’ll drag out a post from eight years ago and use it to make my point?” Or does the person honestly believe the post is current?
This sort of thing happens all the time on Facebook. Folks come across a post from months or even years ago, and they share it like it happened today or maybe last week.
I’ll admit that news comes at us fast. So much happens so quickly that it’s nearly impossible to keep up.
Still, we ought to be able to do better than we often do. A quick internet search will tell you whether what you’re thinking about posting on Facebook is current, or even true.
Posting military deaths from eight years ago as if they happened this week ought to be embarrassing. In trying to make a point that the news media’s priorities are out of line, what a post like that really makes clear is that we aren’t paying attention.
Many Facebook users are quick to tell you as much. “The news is just too depressing,” they say. “I have to tune it out.”
It’s tempting to blame all of this on Facebook. The social media giant is taking lots of criticism these days.
A recent report by Wired magazine details the 21 biggest Facebook scandals of 2018. The list is long, the magazine says, and it’s likely to keep growing.
At the top of the list is that lots of folks seem bent on using the popular social media platform to fan the flames of outrage and make worse our cultural divide.
We really don’t need any help with that, though. Sometimes I think we just like being mad.