Nuclear Plant. Image via WikipediaI think many people received the hoax text/SMS message regarding the fictitious report that the Philippines along with other Asian countries will be reached today by the radiation coming out from the problematic Fukushima nuclear power plant. And most of these people are alarmed and as a result, forwarded the message to their loved ones and friends. The message spread like virus. In fact, by 3 o'clock this afternoon, I already received 2 versions of this tale.
The anxiety and confusion caused by that message is severe. One famous university in the Philippines along with many other schools suspended their classes with the safety of their student in view. My officemate's mother even called him and ask him to rush into the nearby pharmacy to buy "betadine", an iodine solution, as instructed by the SMS message.
The message, if true is really frightening but as we see events unfold today, the message was proven to be UNTRUE, a nicely crafted HOAX. This blog is among the first to publish a carefully researched article regarding that matter. We do not know what is the motive of the person or persons behind the message. But despite all these negative things, we can, at least take back some critical lessons.
Do Not Forward A Warning Message Without Proof
Although it is understandable that in times of crisis, rationalizing can be hard but let's not make it an excuse to be lazy in using our minds to analyze any information we receive. We must always test whether the information that we received is true before sending it to others. In our time of "unlimited" text messaging and internet connection, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, the transfer of information is very fast. Once the information has been forwarded, you can never know how far it will reach. You can save the world or you can break it. A simple message can be a small spark that starts a fire and burns the entire forest.
In short, we must make sure that the message we received is true before forwarding it. Try to gather information regarding the source of the message whether they were credible. A good source of information are the authorities and credible media organizations.
"It's Better to Be Safe Than to Be Sorry" - Is it Really Safe?
Some may argue that they just followed what the SMS said because its better to be safe. Yes, that saying is absolutely true if the definition of "safe" is clear. In the case of the Fukushima radiation hoax, how many of us is sure that putting an iodine solution in our thyroid will protect us against radiation? Whether it will help or not, I don't know. What I know is that I'm not sure about it. What if the opposite is true, and putting an iodine solution in your necks will even worsen the case? The point is, before making a decision, make sure that you have FACTS.
In the case of the Fukushima Radiation Hoax, the damage is not big. That's something we should be thankful for. It only resulted to people staying at home, suspended classes, and an increase in the sale of "betadine" solution. :-). But think about this: What if the message instead requires a more drastic action? Will you do it?
What else do we learn?
I sure that there are many lessons we have learned from this event. But let's not be forgetful, let's apply the core principles of these lessons and take it to other situations.