There’s a funny old meme that goes: The only exercise some people get is jumping to conclusions, flying off the handle, stirring up trouble and running their mouths.
This could just as easily be the mantra of the entirety of social media these days.
Take last week’s story about a doctor who apparently refused a man entry into his surgery because he wouldn’t remove his koefieyah.
That’s what it appeared like from the video the man posted.
But it seems the only exercise HE got was pushing his luck.
Because it turns out, that wasn’t the case at all, and he had revealed only part of the story to make him look like the victim of Islamophobia at the hands of the physician.
And for a short while, it worked, as Facebook was ever ready to lynch the good doctor, with some people suggesting a boycott of his business and others wanting to protest outside his surgery.
But there were also other, more reasonable people on Facebook, who were a bit more suspicious of the man’s motives.
One of them is a good friend of mine, and also happens to be an attorney with a steady moral compass and a strong belief in justice.
She set a very good example of what should be standard practice when it comes to inflammatory content like this.
She offered to get in touch with the doctor to get to the bottom of the story, which she duly did.
She then reported back to let us know that the video we watched was in fact only half the story.
It turns out the man had caused a scene and taken offense for no reason at all.
The doctor has a standing policy that the man is completely familiar with and had abided by moments earlier, before being treated. But once the same request was made of another patient, he decided to chime in and make it an altercation about respecting religious observances. But motive and context is everything!
After I understood the full story, I watched the video over and wondered again about the man’s motives for wanting to rally a community around a lie that could’ve caused that doctor untold harm. Why would he do something like that?
I would like to believe that he doesn’t understand the power of social media, but then again, I suspect he posted the video exactly because he understands the power of social media.
The man clearly seems to be playing it all up for the camera. He talks over the doctor continuously and ensures that only his side of the story is heard on the video.
And he repeatedly uses the phrase Allahu Akbar, which while being a declaration of faith, is also sometimes used by Muslims in moments of conflict. It’s as if the man is trying to be deliberately provocative in his tone and diction.
Although I was disappointed, but not entirely surprised to see only a few apologies from those people who had angry or threatening words for the doctor before they knew the facts, I suppose all’s well that ends well.
While I am still unsure what to make of it, I do know that it was a very good lesson in how easily people are willing to believe something on their timeline, without confirming the facts first.
Not just that, but some people were ready to take action against the doctor, without verifying facts.
If this is what can happen with one small lie in a small community about one small altercation, just imagine what can be done globally about something contentious that affects everyone’s lives. Because as they say, a lie can travel halfway around the world, before the truth has a chance to put on its shoes.