Rumor Flies

We got the sauce

Rumor Flies comically addresses the origins, evolution, and veracity of your favorite rumors, myths, and misconceptions. Tune in for more research, stories, and unsolicited commentary! Participation encouraged.

203 - Food: Salty over Coffee

Hey there,

So the food one. Once again, I was not present, so naturally I'm the ideal candidate to speak about this episode with authority! As always, it's fun to learn about the little facts/corrections that affect things we interact with every day. In this one we researched coffee, the ever-deadly “Chubby Bunny,” the mysterious pink goo, and more. I want to focus in particular on the McDonald's “pink goo” because it is surprisingly relevant with a lot of conversations happening right now about the media, peoples' agendas, and how misinformation gets propagated (especially during tense political elections/debates/etc.). Jeeves! My soapbox, please.

The “pink goo” was, as Ryan put it, another “facebook share.” While this is not a new phenomenon by any stretch of the imagination, a lot of people are once again calling attention to how much of an echo chamber the internet can be. Add in how we tend to surround ourselves even more than usual with like-minded people on social media and it's easy to see how people can put on the earmuffs. One major movement we have seen involves food. We have seen the rise and scrutiny of terms like, “farm to table,” “organic,” “all natural,” and a general trend towards questioning “processed” foods. These trends tend to ebb and flow, but right now we are definitely seeing a lot of marketing and even ideological trends surrounding how we acquire and prepare our food.

The pink goo played into this trend like crazy. Many people, already skeptical about the kind of food we get at a place like McDonald's (real talk: we all know what we are eating when we get fast food. Pink goo or not, we all know it's terrible for us, but that's not why we eat it. Just had to make that point). It's no surprise that when people went on facebook one day and suddenly saw a bunch of their friends who shared the same leanings towards health and food sharing this “fact” about McDonald's that they did no research and just shared it blindly. It fit their world view, it didn't surprise them, and it was popular enough that “it was probably true.” To be honest, I would not have been surprised in the slightest if it turned out it WAS accurate.

Anyway, this was long winded and ever winding, but I don't feel like going back to make this more concise so deal with it. My point is that once again we see how all these factors – the internet echo chamber, our propensity for surrounding ourselves with like-minded people, and the tendency we have towards “meh, sounds right” - contributed to the propagation of yet another completely fabricated claim that went viral. Who knows how many people still believe it's true. Just something to consider.