I was trying to avoid this, but it won’t seem to go away. In this case, I am referring to the story of the man that allegedly found a rat deep fried in his KFC dinner. The story started as a social media post, and was quickly picked up by local TV, then the national media soon was calling it a tragedy.
Not surprising, this was a hoax. If you look closely at the above picture, which started the whole thing, it clearly shows that the flesh of the item in question has the same color and consistency as chicken. It may be misshapen, but it is nothing but chicken after all.
When I first heard this story, before even seeing the pictured item in question, my mind wondered to the movie Striptease. I actually was forced to watch the movie many years ago when I worked for a short time as a strip club DJ. My boss felt I could learn some pointers on how to properly “sell” the entertainers if I learned to mimic the DJ in the movie. It is not a great piece of American cinema, but the scene I recalled (pictured above) is the one when the club’s bouncer/bodyguard (played by Ving Rhames) is trying to scam an establishment by placing a rat in some food. Art imitating life, this is not, but the idea is not new.
This is not the first incident of someone using social media to attempt to shame an establishment to get something done. I did that recently when I found some issues with the handicap access at a local convenience store. The regional manager contacted me within a few hours and he now trains his managers to avoid this problem since then. That is the proper way to use social media for good, but that is not what with done in the KFC incident.
From what I have read, this guy posted the pic and said he was served a rat at KFC. He went on a local radio show and claimed the store manager confirmed it was a rat. KFC has said in statements that the alleged victim, Devorise Dixon (nor any parties representing him) have contacted the local store or KFC corporate. I believe he expected he was going to “get paid” because KFC would do whatever it took to get that picture removed from social media. Instead, the company weathered the storm, waited for the facts to be presented, then was able to show that this was a misunderstanding at best.
This is becoming much more prevalent in our instant access world. Someone makes an accusation, and before the facts are in, before the truth comes to light, the “armchair experts” on social media have already played judge, jury, and executioner. This is not what social media was meant to be used for. I am not saying it should all be recipes and what ya at, but there are too many people that decide they know the truth when the truth has not been found yet. The scary thing is its not just in stuff like this KFC story, but also breaking hard news, tradegic events, and even sporting stories.
This is not me bashing social media. I love to use the tools available on social media to connect with family, friends, and people I have worked with across the country. I share news stories on almost every social platform I use, but when I start following a story, I try to see it through to the end. I use my brain to analyze the information presented in the article, post, or tweet, and if it sounds even slightly off, I start reading. I have found articles shared by others that are completely wrong and years old. I have even been duped into sharing something incorrect, but I came back later and pointed to the corrected information once I had confirmed the information.
I’ve heard this blamed on society becoming dumber. That is a complete crock of horsesh*t. It’s not intelligence, it is about people wanting to believe what they are told. Everyone wants to trust that the information they are being given is correct, accurate, and that most people want to be honest upstanding citizens too. That is not the case. There are people that are looking to get rich quick, those that get off on screwing with people’s heads, and even more that are so messed up they just do it because they can.
How do we slow down the people that want to use social media as a way to make a quick buck? Well, to quote my mom (my kids are cringing) “You got to think, think, think!” What does that mean? If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. If the first time you hear something (like the KFC story) that little voice in the back of your head goes “That can’t be right!” wait a tick or two before sharing it.
That advice not only goes for people on social media, for for my fellow broadcasters too. I know your bosses want you to get the “exclusive” and be the first to break the story. That is great and the graphics for “(Name of your station) Exclusive” look so great next to your face, but how do you think the reporters that “broke” this story feel now that this was obviously bad information. I know it is old fashioned, but I still try to remember to go with that old standard of getting information from two reliable sources before I run with it. I actually prefer more. The extra time you take could be the difference between sharing correct information or spreading gossip.