I have observed that many people, including myself, fall into the trap of involuntarily trusting information given them by spoken word, a book, the press, the internet and countless other sources. For some of us, we are trusting by nature, others are skeptical by nature. The remaining multitudes fall somewhere in between. Yet we know deep down there should be some kind of litmus test regarding the diffusion of any information.
Two thousand years ago, a certain apostle wrote to the Thessalonian church instructing them to test all things and hold fast to the good. In that case, the litmus test was established by the Word of God. This axiom reminds us that there is little wisdom in testing some things and leaving others to chance. If we train ourselves to get into the habit of testing and verifying all information which we are exposed to on a daily basis, then we will most likely prevent the unfortunate results of bad or misleading information.
With this in mind, I would offer a suggestion in respect to one of these sources, namely our online activity on board the internet. Regardless of intentions, if someone suggests an unfamiliar website for you to visit, sends you an email from an unknown address or suggests that you perform a certain task to protect your social media account, FIRST do the following:
Point your browser towards a credible search engine like Google or Yahoo. Then simply type in a few of the salient words from the suggestion or action you are being requested to take. The crucial next step is to type in the words “scam” or “hoax” directly following your text. Then engage your search. Carefully examine the search results which follow. This will almost certainly reveal any possible threat of scam or hoax. In many cases your selection will be clear of any scam debris. In other cases, threats will be immediately evident. Since this only takes mere seconds, the investment will most likely save you time and potential grief in the days to follow. In all cases, NEVER open an email from a source you did not solicit. Your inbox will be eternally grateful and much more easily managed.
Since the internet is basically one enormous crowd sourcing entity, you will be tapping into the experience, knowledge as well as the often unfortunate oversight of millions of internet surfers who have preceded the rest of us. I’ve always said that life is better lived in a balanced fashion. You should not test everything to the degree of forgoing all other productive activity, but do remain vigilant knowing that we live in a world where scams and hoaxes are seemingly around every corner.