Don’t let skepticism go to pessimism

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, January 15, 2019

An old journalism adage goes: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

That adage ran through my mind most of the day Monday after I awoke to the sound of my smartphone’s pinging to alert me to messages that were coming from one of my social media accounts.

Friends were telling me they were getting suspicious friend requests from me even though we had long been friends on the social media site.

Email newsletter signup

I’m familiar with the phenomenon. Someone you’ve been linked to on social media for years appears in your friend request list. You’re tempted to accept the friend request and then you realize you have already been friends with them on social media for years.

So you check the link from the new friend request to find it shows the person only has one or two existing friends and nothing posted on the timeline by the person.

You go back and check your own friend list and see that indeed you are already friends with the person’s actual account that has items posted on the timeline.

Spoofing: “In the context of information security, and especially network security, a spoofing attack is a situation in which a person or program successfully masquerades as another by falsifying data, to gain an illegitimate advantage,” Wikipedia says.

In laymen’s terms, spoofing is when someone pretends to be someone else so they can steal personal information . . . or whatever.

I’m still not sure why spoofing occurs on social media and have seen it happen to others, but Monday was the first time I’m aware of that my account fell victim to spoofing.

Many of us learned long ago to be leery of suspicious emails and most of us with email accounts have received emails that appear to have been sent from someone we know and trust.

Upon further inspection, however, we realize those emails are spam or a malicious attempt to steal information and were sent by someone or some computer program posing as a friend — spoofing.

Then, we’ve also seen the items floating through cyberspace purporting to be news when they actually are false information being passed off as legitimate news in an effort to manipulate public opinion.

No wonder our society is so skeptical and negative about so many things as we enter 2019.

In the Miss-Lou, we are poised to have a great year on the heels of many great accomplishments from the past year, including successful efforts to bring two new industries to Vidalia, completing a downtown master plan for Natchez and some existing businesses that are poised to grow and expand in the new year. Despite all that positive information in the Miss-Lou, however, many people find it difficult to remain positive.

While some amount of healthy skepticism is a good thing, allowing that skepticism to turn into out-right pessimism is a mistake.

That’s why I prefer to be cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the Miss-Lou going into this new-year, and as always, I will trust but verify the facts.

And that is what I encourage each of you to do as well.

Meanwhile, I do believe great things are in store for the Miss-Lou this year.

And, by the way, I have checked and my mother does love me (most of the time).

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 601-445-3540 or