This afternoon, while I ate lunch, a friend of mine on Facebook shared a meme about the largest-ever $1.3 billion Powerball lottery. She is a brilliant person—Ivy League-trained, doctor, do-gooder.
For some reason, I can't embed the Facebook meme here. It was was just posted today and has already been shared over one million times.
It says "Powerball 1.3 Billion ÷ U.S. Pop 300 Million / Everyone receives 4.33 mil / Poverty solved!"
My friend captioned it, apparently seriously, "Why not?"
She still hasn't taken it down.
Have you done the math in your head yet? Or on your phone?
Do us all a favor: Spend, at minimum, a single second engaging your critical thinking skills before re-posting stuff that your dozens or hundreds or thousands of online friends are going to see.
According to one study, social media "could be making you dumber by supplying answers and insights without requiring any actual thinking, so that your analytic powers begin to waste away like an unused muscle," Time reported in 2014. The full study is here.
And, because my editor insists I give you the answer: The equation works out to a paltry $4.33 per American. And while we're at it, the US population is over 320 million and counting. So if you plug in the correct population number, the answer is even lower.