A few years ago I showed a group of 10 to 12 year olds in my Sunday School class a number of pictures I had received by email. I asked them to decide which pictures depicted truth and which were false or misleading. The pictures above were part of the group. The children were generally unsuccessful at picking out the fraudulent images. Virtually everything we hear comes with some sort of bias, whether it is a friend recounting an event or an anchor reporting the network news. Sometimes we choose to believe stories that are outrageously sentimental because they have an emotional effect on us. We want to believe something that is heart warming. Television shows such as Touched by an Angel were successful because people do enjoy this genre. (yes, I watched the show too and cried through the episode where the little boy died of cystic fibrosis and Wynonna Judd sang Testify to Love)
Glurge is a new word coined to describe those inspirational stories that come to your email inbox offering a strong moral lesson, distorted or untrue facts along with the threat of misfortune if you do not forward them to all your friends. Facebook has also become a vehicle for these sappy offerings. Here are some definitions of glurge…
Glurge is another name for extremely sickly-sweet, religious/inspirational or otherwise emotional blindsiding via chain mail. Glurge is intended to switch off the brain and turn on the tear ducts.
Glurge is the body of inspirational tales which conceal much darker meanings than the uplifting moral lessons they purport to offer, and which undermine their messages by fabricating and distorting historical fact in the guise of offering "true stories."
I have been deceived myself by some of these stories which may have some truth in them. I received an email about the origins of the hymn “Precious Lord Take My Hand” by Tommy Dorsey. It told of a tragedy in the life of the famous trombonist and dance band leader that led him to write this beautiful song. But the truth is that it was written by Thomas A. Dorsey, a Negro musician who wrote gospel music, not Tommy Dorsey the famous white musician.
It isunfortunate that stories like these are told by preachers and inspirational speakers, leaving us at risk for emotional duping. Becka and I were doubled over in laughter last night reading examples of glurge on the internet. Some people have taken to writing their own glurge as a creative exercise. Some glurge is true, but the truth is frequently embellished and slanted.
In my opinion, the best website for checking the truth of any story or picture is Snopes urban legends reference pages. I check any email forwards I receive, (if I haven’t trashed them immediately) here. If you have some time to put in, Snopes has lots of entertaining reading. It features a number of categories including a Glurge Gallery and a section called Fauxtography!
History has proved that it is very easy to deceive large groups of people. The internet has the capability of spreading information, true or false at rapid speed.
By the way, which picture of the four above is true? They are all found on Snopes.