MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

April 16, 2014

Snake scare shows need for skepticism

We must approach things we see on social media with a healthy dose of skepticism.

A monster came to Muskogee last week, or so you might have thought if you saw a photo posted to Facebook.

Jeremiah Brennan took a photo of a large snake in a tree near the intersection of North Main and Douglas streets and posted the photo to Facebook.

Things are not always what they appear. The old saw about seeing being believing is false.

Photos do lie, even when there is no intent to deceive. Brennan took the photo up close. The combination of wide-angle perspective, the size of the tree that the snake was hanging on and the building in the background made the serpent look huge.

Facebook blew up with comments. The Phoenix and the police received calls.

“I was not expecting it to blow up on Facebook that way at all,” Brennan said. “I can understand the angle it’s at is deceiving, but the way it blew up and put fear into people is surprising.”

The snake was a harmless black rat snake, around 4 feet long. That is about a medium-size snake for the species.

Many were concerned. That isn’t surprising. But the deceiving angle is not uncommon.

Joshua Engelbert, a reptile expert at the Tulsa Zoo, said the angle of the photograph is commonly used to make something appear much larger than it is.

“This is a popular camera trick used a lot for big fish photographs,” Engelbert said.

It just illustrates how we must take what we see on the Web and on social media with a grain of salt.

We have all seen photos in which it looks as if a vacationer is holding the Statue of Liberty in the palm of her hand. But it is not just photos that can be deceiving.

Many today get a lot of their information from Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media.

Caution is required. In many ways, the things passed around are like gossip in the town square. Our reactions must be tempered.

We should consider both the source of the information and its nature.

If a photo or post is inflammatory, we must check it against other sources.

We should always treat what we see and read, particularly when it is shocking or inspires fear, as needing further verification.

We have enough things to be concerned about without facing monster snakes.

1
Text Only
Opinion
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Poll

Should a federal judge have the power to strike down Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage?

Yes
No
     View Results
Featured Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Stocks