While the internet and text messaging are powerful tools to spread news, information and ideas as well as a means to quickly organize and move people to action, irresponsible use of these tools can also leads to confusion, panic and unwarranted anxiety.

The recent tragedy in Japan, brought about by a series of earthquakes, followed by tsunamis, and then the partial nuclear meltdown in Fukushima brought the world together in prayers and cooperation in large part because of the availability of information in the traditional media and the internet.

Map Of Japan showing evacuation zone around Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (courtesy of CBS News).
However, the internet and cell phone was also used around noon today to spread unverified information about "radiation leaks from Fukushima hitting the Philippines at 4pm, with recommendation to stay indoors and to swab the neck (thyroid) area with betadine". Well meaning people forwarded the message in twitter, facebook, email and SMS to their families and friends so as to help them prepare for the impending danger.

This of course pushed Mama Sez and me into action. We immediately searched the internet for updates and specifically looked for verification from major news network and government sources worldwide, the only ones we thought who'd be responsible enough to know and verify information before posting anything online. It turned out that the cited source, BBC News, has not posted any updates to indicate that radiation would reach the Philippines. We also used University and research organization websites to learn basic information about nuclear radiation leaks, precautions and handling of emergency situations. We eventually settled down about an hour later when we made judgment that the forwarded information was false. Our friend also later retracted the warning with a follow-up message saying that it is NOT true.

I guess the only way to guard against misinformation, deliberate or not, is to stay calm and immediately try to verify before forwarding the message. Being able to use and send information over the internet and/or via cell phone text messaging is POWER to influence and move other people to action, and wielding power requires all of us to be responsible as well.

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About Us (circa 2009)

Our journey led us to this place. A little more than 10 years ago we began our journey as husband and wife. Three years later, we found ourselves with two bundles of joy- a daughter and then a son. They're the children we've dreamed of having.

About five years since the birth of our son, an unexpected gift came- a younger brother to our school-age kids. And soon enough, a baby girl arrived to round the family membership.

Brave was a term used by a friend to describe us. Challenging... and loving it -- yeah, this journey is not for the faint of heart.