Blurring the lines between reality and fantasy

About a week ago, the following video appeared on my Facebook page:

There followed dozens of comments about what an incredible catch this was, and didn’t the girl show the guys how it was done!  Nobody on the list doubted that this event occurred.  Everybody wanted to believe it!  We all want to believe that people, especially the unsung heros, are capable of great things.  The video has gone viral several times over.

Okay, so call me a party pooper.

It didn’t take much time with Google to find the following:

“If that ball girl’s catch seems unbelievable well, you’re right it’s not real. It’s a viral video advertisement produced for Gatorade.”  Click here to read the article.

Yes, a major disappointment for those of us who want to believe that we are all, including minor league ball girls, capable of great things.

Well, it turns out that the Gatorade ad was based on an actual 1996 event involving a Seattle Mariners ball girl.  Go here for the video.

It used to be that you could tell the difference between commercials and programs.  It reminds me of the old, old joke, “What’s the difference between a faery tale and a sailor’s story?”  (If by some stretch of the imagination, somebody has not heard the punch line, it’s, “A faery tale starts out, ‘Once upon a time’ and a sailor’s story starts out, ‘No shit! This really happened!'”)

The problem is that people are willing to believe even the most fantastic things.  This is how magicians and email scammers ply their trade.  This is how urban myths start, and this is how political careers are made and broken.  In the United States at least, listening to the Republicans and the Democrats tell outrageous lies about each other and get away with it has become de rigueur.

Yesterday, I received for the upteenth time an email advising me that the planet Mars will make its closest approach to Earth in a lifetime, and will actually appear as large in the sky as the full moon.  It doesn’t take a Ph.D in astronomy to know that this is entirely nonsense.

But, as long as we still willing to believe in faery tales, that ball girls can fly, that congressmen eat babies for breakfast, and that planets can zip around the solar system willy nilly, this crap will still keep coming to us on the internet.


One Response

  1. Here’s another one that was received with alarming credulity, despite being patently impossible:

    We do WANT to believe these things.

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