People who know me well would know that I very rarely forward chain mails or Whatsapp messages. Of course I sometimes share funny pictures or quotes through Whatsapp. But there have been many, many occasions when I received unverified or unconfirmed news, pleading me to forward or share with friends, with a special emphasis that if I cared about my friends and loved ones, I'd share the news with them.
What I have noticed, perhaps 99% of the times, whenever a message tells you to forward or share with others, it is very likely that it is plain rubbish. Recently, I received a message through Whatsapp with an attached photo of what seemed to be a Pakistani man. The message tells the reader that he's a conman who'd go from house to house in the village and would cast spells on people, who'd then give him money. Many people had been tricked that way. The message tells the reader to immediately contact the police if he knocks on the door. The message then pleads to be forwarded to friends and loved ones to warn them.
There are surprisingly many, many gullible people out there. They fall for this sort of messages all the time. They get tricked over and over again, and they will never learn. I did not forward the above message, of course, but instead I asked the person who sent me the message if he had discovered its origin; the identity of the man in the photo; and if the message had been confirmed to be true. His reply—and this is the surprising part—is that he did not even attempt to discover the truth of the matter. He said he simply forwarded the message to everybody "just in case if it's true", because after all, "Sharing is caring".
He's not the first person who'd given me that justification for forwarding unconfirmed messages. Always, "just in case if it's true". Most people would say that they're sharing with others because they care. It's nothing personal.
To be very honest, I'm quite sick of that sentence: It's nothing personal. For what it really means is that it's not personal to them. But one of these days, someone out there will spread lies about them, perhaps spreading those lies in chain mails or Whatsapp messages, and I bet it would then become personal—to them. Always, we don't think that the truth is very important when somebody else is the subject of the allegation. The truth becomes important only when we are the victims of lies. We resent it when people tell lies about ourselves, but we'd readily forward or share messages which we have no clue if they're true or false. It seems harmless to spread lies for the sake of "just in case it's true"; but it only becomes harmful when we are the victims of lies.
Verifying and confirming the truth of what we receive from friends are not generally the habit of most people. It seems much simpler to just immediately share with friends because "sharing is caring". Whether or not we may contribute to cause pain on innocent people by helping to spread lies, that possibility seems not so important; and that is such an irony.
Well, I range myself on the side of the minority—I'm NOT sharing unverified messages because I care. I care about my friends and loved ones; I try my best to prevent them from helping other people to spread (possible) lies.