Twitter-induced Stupidity

by - Sunday, June 23, 2013

**Southern Alberta has been hit by major flooding... the City of Calgary alone had 75,000 people evacuated from their homes near the rivers and there are another 150,000 people in the region affected... if you are interested in making a donation to the clean-up, please visit the Canadian Red Cross for information.**

Twitter is great for some things, and not for others.  For example, Twitter is working to advise Calgarians about the road conditions, evacuations, power outages, and rounding up volunteers.  So many volunteers.  Too many volunteers really, for this stage of the clean-up.  No worries, fellow citizens, our help will be needed for a long time.  Our mayor was up for over 40 hours at one point, and there was even a twitter hashtag created to try and get him to go for a #napfornenshi!

What Twitter is not great about is spreading rumours and mass hysteria.  Lately the issue has been with business' gouging during this tragedy... sadly many business' names have been dragged through the mud (and holy heck, do we have a lot of mud right now), because people are retweeting erroneous "facts" and blowing things completely out of proportion.

Yesterday, someone tweeted (with a picture), that a local grocery store was gouging customers by selling fruit trays for $59.99.  OH! THE! HUMANITY!  What they didn't tweet, was that this wasn't a run-of-the-mill fruit tray, it was a specially ordered, prepared in store fruit tray for 30+ people.  The ones that always go for that price... flood or no flood.  I went to the store in question yesterday after having a rip-roaring twitter argument over it to prove that there indeed was no gouging.  Yet people are still swearing that they'll never shop at that store again.  That's fine... it is your choice where to shop, but get your damn facts straight!  Or better yet, buy uncut fruit from the store and cut the damn stuff yourself!
The second issue was people freaking out over the cost of bottled water.  For one, the city itself IS NOT under a boil water advisory, so there was NO NEED to freak the fuck out and go hoard bottled water from the grocery stores.  Second, there are two types of pricing for bottled water - sold by the case (generally far cheaper - probably about $4/case of 24 bottles, available in grocery stores and such) and sold individually (like in 7-11 when you can pay $1.50 for the same water).  In the second example, you are paying extra for things like convenience and the fact that the water is cold.  There are some businesses that NEVER sell water by the case... and hence, if you were to buy 24 bottles at these stores, you would be charged the individual price x 24!  This is not gouging!  This is how the store sells water!  Now, if Costco went and broke open all their cases of water (that they only sell by the case in store) and sold them individually - that would be gouging... but the mom and pop corner store down the street that only sells individual water bottles (and has always done so) is not gouging you for not charging a cased price.  Hell - they probably paid more than the case price anyways in the first time!

In short, people need to get their facts straight.  Tweet the important information, but keep the twitter-induced mass-hysteria to a minimum.  Or not feed into it at all.  There is already enough stupidity in the world!

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  1. Benjamin Franklin said "believe none of what you hear and half of what you see" and I find that adage still the perfect way to respond to this sort of thing. People tend to respond with high emotion when a disaster or tragedy takes place, when the best thing to do would be to do what you can, and don't spread negative rumors. The news media already has a corner on that market.

    I hope the recovery goes well for the people of the area. Mother nature seems to be getting more malevolent every year.