Wisely Perpetrating Gullibility

As a novice writer, I have had to learn many things. I have had to do a lot of research and listen to advice of all sorts and from all sources. Unless the information is coming from a credible source, and I mean completely legit, I don’t generally take things for face value. Some may say that’s jaded but the truth is, it is experience. There is an abundance of false information disguised as fact on the internet. That same false information is perpetuated by mouth and email by those that don’t fact check and are willing to believe the first thing they read/hear/see.

This willingness to jump and believe the sensational hogwash is often referred to as gullible. Funny enough that word is not actually used often to describe these duped people. Someone gullible enough to just take things for face value would take great offence to be labelled something so insulting. With social media it is easier and easier to fall for lies and ‘jokes’ because more and more people are believing these methods of information dispensing is legit and policed. No none of it is.

There are four types of people in this scenario, the apathetic, the wise, the gullible and the perpetrator. All three have a place in the world and both can easily jump into a story and create interesting backstory or friction between characters.

The Apathetic: These people just don’t care one way or another. They see everything as mildly entertaining/lame/boring/unimportant. This person can be frustrating because of their lack of… well… anything. They don’t care and don’t not care. Ugh. DOOOOO something interesting already!

The wise: They think and question everything using common sense and instinct to determine if what they see/hear/read is real or fabricated. These people are often the champions the ones to point out the scam and educate others. They are the hero’s that save the word from miss represented information. While often good, if taken to the extreme a know it all can earn a sucker punch to the jaw, real or imagined.  😉

The Gullible: Latches on to anything sensational and excitedly rides it as gospel truth. They can range from the fanatical who will actually fight for what they deem believable, to those that when told it was false they laugh embarrassed and let it go. “Ha ha, silly me. I can’t believe I believed that baking soda and vinegar in a bottle will fill a balloon with helium.” (No, I didn’t but a lot of people did and still do. My 8 year old even saw that as false but a 36 year old ran out to buy supplies.) Then on the other side of the spectrum. “The Trump gets a new heart transplant from children every 10 years to live for ever. It’s true! I saw it this morning. There was a picture and everything.”

The Perpetrator: This type of person sits giddily and takes joy and pleasure from creating believable forgery information. Seriously, they will create/say/do anything to see if people fall for their fabrications. These people are smart, even generous, devious and even evil. These are users and abusers, the bad people in disguise or under the radar. “I wonder if I say the newest study *create study* says you can regrow your hair using a mix of raw eggs, two day old dog dung and mashed beets slathered on your head for an hour, if anyone will do it?” *Giggles and gets to work.

There are so many ways dishonest people with the tendency to want to harm others can carry out their compulsions these days. Are they just silly teens getting off on causing a little chaos or serial liars that live off the high of knowing someone somewhere fell for their made up fiction disguised as facts? I see potential for friction between characters, potential for evil to get a foot hold and use the gullible. Foreshadowing gullibility is as easy as someone stating they saw truth in the absurd and someone else countering their claim with words, action or even a ‘are you serious’ facial expression.

My advice about falsely presented fact.
Trust your instincts and if it seems to good/crazy/scary/weird to be true, fact check and source check. Adding these behaviors into a character or two could be interesting. A gullible person can easily become an unknown pawn in some perpetrators dastardly plan. Can the wise see and stop it in time?  Oooh exciting?

-Sheryl

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