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Recognizing Rumours on the Internet|
by Andrea E. Feeser
The Internet is a powerful tool that has, in the past 5 years, provided the means for developing a vast network of on-line communities. Our large community of cyber-Pagans has greatly benefited from this medium. But the Internet can also be devastating. The power of words, flying around the world in minutes-and even seconds, can be brought to virtually destroy the life of any one of us. We are constantly bombarded, on a daily basis, with information via e-mail, the web, chat interfaces and newsgroups. That is why it is so important for us to learn how to recognize and control rumors, before they fly out of control.
It is not difficult to decipher the rumors from the facts, if you know what you are looking for. Often, the name of the individual originating the message will be missing from non-factual postings. Most often, the posting will be vague and lacking in facts which would help determine the exact nature of the problem -- .
When receiving potentially damaging information over the Internet, first determine the importance of the problem. If it is simply gossip, discard it. If it is, on the other hand, describing a situation in which a Neo-Pagan group, organization or any individual is at risk and needs assistance, the information should be passed on to an officer or board member of an appropriate organization.
Neo-Pagan organizations and other help-organizations have a method of dealing with requests for aid. They usually will first check their records to see if they have already received and processed a request from any individuals involved in the incident. If they have not, then they usually proceed to contact the individual(s) and/or group(s) involved in order to check facts and determine if and how they can assist.
Any additional movement of the information through the Internet will most often do more harm than good. While it may seem logical that we should tell as many people as possible about a potentially dangerous (or otherwise problematic) situation, we may in fact be spreading a rumor which is damaging the reputation of an individual or group. In the Craft and most Neo-Pagan religions there is great emphasis placed on personal integrity. We cannot state as fact something we do not know to be true. Remember, it could be any one of us, even you, who ends up subject to someone else"s misinterpretation of facts. This power which the Internet provides us, enables us to do great good. With this power comes much responsibility, to ourselves and each other.
Important Note: This article is presented by the author as a starting point for discussion on the issue. Each author has submitted his/her article independently and may or may not agree with all the viewpoints in the entire series.
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