The Grandmother Problem

The Grandmother Problem is the problem of people sharing false information, and having to try and find a way to civilly tell them to be more careful. This problem is something (almost) everyone has come across. I say almost, because someone has to be the one putting out the false information.

Unfortunately, I deal with this issue a lot with my family. We have opposing views, but that is not why I feel like they post more false information than I do. They just happen to come across it more, so they share it.

When these types of things happen, I have to handle it with care. Especially when it comes to my parents. I do not feel it’s best to confront them online. That just brings them unwanted attention. People might start to gang up against them, try and prove them wrong, etc. It can turn messy when doing these sorts of things online.

I see this happen the most on Facebook. What I would do, and have done, is maybe while we were having dinner, I’d bring up the topic with them. Mention how I saw the article they shared the other day. From here, they’ll try and talk about it, get my opinion on it.

This is where things can get tricky. I have to find a way to explain to them, not only was this article false, but that it is wrong to be posting false things. I start off by telling them, “hey just so you know, I double checked that information, and it actually ended up not being true.”

More often than not, they’ll begin to argue with me. So I try and tell them they can think whatever they want, but I need them to understand how important it is to not be spreading false information. If it’s necessary, I’ll even walk them through the process of checking whether or not an article is legit.

They normally begin to understand. It might not be for a few days, and in the meantime, they might share more dubious articles. However, the information I gave them will always be with them. It will always be in the back of their head saying “hey, double check this article,” and so, over time, they being to stop sharing false news.