Ernest Hemingway on safari, Kenya, 1954. (Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)
One of the beauties of our age of communication is the ability of anyone to publish their thoughts to the world and the lightning speed at which those thoughts can be communicated. Of course, that also means that any old dolt can write some drivel, sign someone else’s name to it or call it a “true story” and few question it. Errors are unstopable.
I’ve made it a personal hobby of mine to debunk “true stories” passed around on the web. Yeah, friends on Facebook just love me. This week, however, my attention was nabbed not by another sappy tale that never happened, but by a misattribution I’ve seen one time too many.
Romantic stories are nice, but which ones are real?
Some are shocking. Others are heartbreaking or hilarious. They’re those seemingly unbelievable stories e-mailed to you by a friend, posted on Facebook or on a blog. And most of the time, they’re just not true.
“MARRIAGE — A MUST READ” is the latest one I’ve been tracking. It’s the soppy tale of a cheating husband who wants a divorce from his wife. After carrying her to the front door each morning for a week at her request (who does this?) he decides he’s madly in love with her and doesn’t want a divorce [sigh].
One of the questions often posted in response to this story is “Is it true?” Well, of course not!
David Emery debunks urban legends and online stories for About.com. He said he actually hadn’t heard this one before, but that “frankly, it reads like fiction.”
Really bad fiction, I would add.
I’d love to do a point-by-point destruction of this story, but I’m not sure I could outdo Katie Mullaly at The Buzz Media, who rabidly shreds this tale into the fine bits that comprise it. You can usually sniff out these “nary tales” pretty easily just by the fact that the people in them act much like people would act if a love-sick 12-year-old girl wrote the script of our lives — over the top heartbreak, drama-laden redemption and, oh, let’s just all have a bowl of strawberry ice cream.