People in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta are waking up greatly relieved today. Those who had been greatly concerned about their new neighbor have just discovered it was a twitter hoax. Their children are safe and their property values have remained strong. Justin Bieber isn’t looking to buy a piece of property in their area.
We are living in an interesting, (and I use that word loosely), information day. News can travel at the speed of Internet servers, cell phone satellites, and people’s imaginations. Truth is getting lost in fiction these days, even in the trusted media.
CNN, TIME, Gawker and TMZ all ran the same story about an ongoing protest by the residents of Buckhead, a pricey Atlanta neighborhood. The men photographed were publicly protesting the sale of an expensive property to Justin Bieber. People were tweeting and retweeting the news, the photos and their outrage. After all, if CNN and TMZ both said so… it must be true. But it wasn’t.
As it turns out, it was an elaborate hoax by local radio station hosts, “The Regular Guys.” The hosts created a new Facebook page and Twitter account to put the Bieber news out there and sure enough, a bunch of media outlets picked it up and spread the bogus Bieber bulletin. Bummer for the bunch of breaking news bunglers who blabbed and got busted by their bosses.
A man in Texas created a Twitter account called @GSElevator that supposedly posted rude comments that were being made by Goldman Sachs’ employees while they traveled from floor to floor in the Manhattan office. The Twitter account gained more than 600,000 followers and the company hired a private investigator to get to the bottom of things. The notorious tweeter turned out to be John Lefevre who had not heard any of the comments that had been posted. He just made them up! Mr. Lefevre is writing a book right now, to be published by Touchstone, a division of Simon and Schuster. Lefevre’s subject: how a Twitter account can become truth even when it is fiction.
I think all of us have become skeptics of what we see and hear from the media. We wonder if something is photo-shopped, falsified or politically orchestrated. If we decide who to vote for because of political ads or late night talk show interviews, we could potentially ruin our country. Will our current media system create chaos and mistrust among our citizens? Maybe… the Bible says, “Satan is the father of lies” (John 8:44) and he has always been good at his job.
I optimistically believe that the culture is going to cause a lot more people to appreciate the truth of Scripture and the people who will speak that truth. God’s people have always been called to be different from the world – and we are becoming increasingly different all the time!
Paul wrote in Ephesians, chapter 4: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body” (verses 23-25).
Truth is a powerful tool that will set us apart. There is power when our words are both thoughtful and truthful. Trust is going to become increasingly rare given the current trends in our country’s media. You can be the person in the office, neighborhood, school or social group that is known for the integrity of your words and the character of your actions.
Our lives are always our most powerful witness for Christ and for his teachings. Scripture teaches us to speak the truth in love. Will you look for the opportunity to obey those words today?