Want to know if you’re gullible?
The next time someone starts a question with the words “did you know”, and you believe their amazing fact, and even worse, you tell somebody else this news with enthusiasm, consider yourself part of the noise. Here are a few examples: “Did you know there are alligators living in the sewers of New York City?” “Did you know that each year the average person swallows eight spiders in their sleep?” “Did you know that if you die in a dream, you die in real life?”
Unless you’ve recently watched an episode of MythBusters and you know for a fact it’s been proven to be true, it’s not true. If you don’t know positively that it’s a fact, then what you should say is, “You know, I heard…” That is completely acceptable. That encourages healthy conversation.
The temptation is there, even for the best of us. Earlier today my aunt sent me an email letting me know that one of her friends will be at the Dave Matthews concert this weekend in Nashville. In my reply I said, “Did you know that Dave Matthews is considered an African-American because he was born and grew up in South Africa? Then I had to stop myself and delete “did you know” and replace it with “I learned a few days ago that…”
Not always, but often “did you know” is a red flag that what comes after it is some random bit of knowledge that holds no truth. Test this theory out. Surely in the next few days, if not hours, you’ll hear somebody say it. Don’t call them out on it, just quietly retreat to Wikipedia so at least in your own heart, you can prove them to be an attention-grabbing “did-you-knower” without the goods.