[Updated 5 October 2018 to include 2018 Facebook posts]
Last year a Facebook post was going around saying:
Today, if you add your age + the year you were born you will get 2017.
This only happens once every 1000 years!
It’s happening again this year. For some reason, some of the posts have added “We are all 2018 today”
or happy birthday.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO EVERYONE TODAY!!!! You age plus year of birth equals 2018!!!
Beside that fact that the statement is wrong for anybody who hasn’t had their birthday yet this year, the idea that it only happens once every 1000 years is ludicrous.
By definition, if you add the number of years you’ve lived to the year you were born, you will get the current year.
It is actually the case on 31 December every year. It also works for anybody on any day of the year after their birthday. So I guess this year you could say that 31 December will be the only day EVER when everybody in the world will get 2018 if they add their age plus year of birth. (And next year, 31 December will be the only day EVER when everybody in the world will get 2019 if they add their age plus year of birth.)
The main lesson from this is how easily things circulate on Facebook and how fake news can spread quickly!
Its very easy to read something like this, try it, see that it works, and decide to share it. Or there is a post that reinforces a message we like, so we don’t check it out too closely and pass it on.
A statement like the one being shared at the moment doesn’t matter—it makes no difference to anyone (except maybe maths teachers). Unfortunately there are also many examples where people share misinformation about important issues.
Of course I worry most about the misinformation circulated by people I disagree with (e.g., people who want to prevent action on climate change or marriage equality) but I also recognise that people who support things I’m passionate about, do the same thing.
Advocates for social change, have a responsibility to act with integrity, and to base their arguments on the best available evidence.
At least it isn’t a scam. As I was about to post this Cathy got a text message saying she had won GBP 1,750,000 from Coke!
But there is a link. Posts like this one about our birthdays, or ones that say only 1 in 20 people get the right answer, are often click bait trying to get people to click on a link to drive people to their webpage.
Please don’t support them!
If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:
- Hmm, that’s an evil plan!
- Beware of the Magic Seven Travel scam
- Write4Fun – maybe it’s not just about fun
- My background in peace and environment groups
- In some countries (and USA states) our marriage is illegal
- 12 principles of a problem solving approach to conflict resolution
If you find any problems with the blog, (e.g., broken links or typos) I’d love to hear about them. You can either add a comment below or contact me via the Contact page.