At least three or four times a week, I respond to someone’s social media posting with a link to an article on www.snopes.com .  Yes, I am that guy.  Snopes is the single best site I know for debunking urban legends – those compelling, seemingly relevant stories that spread like wildfire just by word of mouth.  The Internet takes “wildfire” and accelerates it to “nuclear chain reaction.”

These are the kinds of stories that you read or hear and then you never really seem to feel like putting in the effort to verify.  They may be short on specifics or they may cite the teller’s friend, or friend’s cousin.  They may be very specific and quote the police chief of a certain town in California.  When told on the East Coast.  Or Massachusetts when told out west.

I think these stories tend to be at their strongest when they reinforce fears we already have.  Gang initiation rites spun out of thin air because of some driver randomly clicking his brights.  Or spiders spilling out of cacti because… Ewww! Spiders!

If you see a story that gives you that little chill of fear you just felt reading “Spiders!” and it manages not to cite a source you’re familiar with, then please o please!  Before resharing or retweeting or reposting or even Liking, please do a quick search for it on www.snopes.com .  You too can be that guy.

Additional Info: http://people.howstuffworks.com/urban-legend.htm

and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_legend