In this story, you’ll hear about how one woman’s story of finding a rubber band on her front door handle turned into a scary ordeal and shaped the behavior of many throughout the nation. This story is an absolute must-read.
Symbol Of Fear?
One woman sent a shockwave through social media after she shared a story about what happened after she found a rubber band on the doorknob of her front door. The Texas woman’s story set off a wave of fear among homeowners, but what was the story all about and was it really all that it was cracked up to be?
The day was April 21, 2016, and Kim Fleming Cernigliaro shared a very scary story via Facebook. She said that on a recent afternoon, she was home and heard something very unexpected and startling: someone was pounding – not knocking, but pounding – on the front door of her home. She was immediately put on edge.
Hesitant To Answer
Kim told her Facebook friends that she almost answered the door, because the pounding on the door sounded as if someone might be in need of help. However, she thought better of it since she was home alone and had not been expecting visitors. She didn’t answer and eventually, the pounding stopped and the visitor left her front porch.
Something about the entire situation made Kim quite cautious. She felt so cautious, in fact, that she did not go outside to check out the area until a half hour had passed. When she did, she saw that not only did she have some junk mail waiting for her on the porch, but something else that she wasn’t quite sure what to think of.
Rubber Band Man
When she looked at her door, Kim said that a rubber band had been hooked around the thumb latch of her door. She said that it had likely been placed there so that when the latch was finally unlocked, the door would stay open even if it was shut. Kim thought it was strange and unnerving, so she called her husband and made sure he knew about the situation.
Kim thought it would be wise to follow up with the police. She claims that when she did, they informed her that this kind of trick was nothing new and had actually led to a number of home invasions and burglaries, too. Even if the homeowner was home, the rubber band could help the thief more easily push their way in, Kim said.
Like many people who have been involved in scary situations, Kim went to Facebook to vent. She posted, “I have protection and I know how to use it, just FYI, I out performed my husband the last time we target practiced, so believe me, I will use it.” Um, not sure how useful that statement will be unless the would-be thief is a friend of yours on Facebook, honey.
Although the story seemed a bit far-fetched, Kim’s post still had all the elements needed to go viral, including a good dose of fear. So the story not only was passed around on Facebook and other social media outlets, but also was reported on by a number of local newspapers, which was kind of a surprise to many involved.
The media really jumped on the story, even reporting that the criminals involved were likely researching and casing homes in advance of their crimes. The media speculated that the perpetrators were hoping to find homes where someone would open the door for them, too. Of course, none of the reporters involved questioned Kim’s take on the events.
An Ominous Sign
The rubber band story had everything that you would need to become an urban legend: it was scary, it included a symbol of upcoming misfortune, and it served as a cautionary tale. Many people started to get freaked out at the thought of finding a rubber band on their front door handle, too. Nobody wants to get robbed, so the feeling of dread was only natural.
Don’t Take Chances
As a result of the rubber band hysteria, different instructions were passed along by social media users, reporters, and even the police themselves. Some said that residents should leave their homes when they saw the rubber bands, while others said they should lock their doors and arm themselves. There were many that refused to answer the door for strangers.
Rubber Band Hysteria
Nobody wants to feel like they may be the target of a potential robbery or worse yet, a home invasion or violent crime of some sort. Therefore, rubber band hysteria started to spread and everyone became wary of being the next victim of the supposed technique. Unfortunately, nobody seemed like they were concerned about actually vetting Kim’s story.
Questioning The Story
Some smart folks started to apply a little doubt and logic to the story, wondering whether Kim was even telling the truth. They asked why someone would bother putting a rubber band around someone’s door handle when if they were willing to push their way in home invasion style, they could do the same thing while using their thumbs to hold the latch down.
Was It Really Happening?
Another point of contention was Kim Cernigliaro’s claim that the sheriff’s office told her the rubber band phenomenon was a growing trend that had been happening more regularly. Snopes, for one, investigated the growing urban legend and did not find evidence that any burglaries or home invasions were conducted this way.
Was Kim Lying?
In fact, Snopes went one step further and ultimately claimed that Kim had been making up the story the entire time. The editors of Snopes guessed that the story was created to make people more cautious about opening the door for strangers or simply to get a rise out of seeing the story spread like wildfire, like so many inaccurate social media posts do.
After all, anybody who has been on Facebook for longer than a few days has seen people passing along fake news, urban legends, or rumors that can be debunked with a simple Google search. This kind of misinformation has gone around the internet since the days of email forwards and chain letters, and it’s hard for Facebook to control or monitor.
A Grain Of Salt
Studies have found that misinformation on Facebook is a major problem, especially when it concerns serious topics such as crime, safety, or health. For instance, half of the top 20 Facebook posts about cancer were found to include false information at one point. Saying that Facebook claims and shared posts should be taken with a grain of salt is probably an understatement.
For The Lulz
Many times, people purposefully spread misinformation on Facebook just to get a kick out of how fast it spreads. They say they did it “for the lulz,” or laughs. We all surely remember plenty of Facebook users posting useless copyright notices after a hoax was passed around about Facebook misusing and taking ownership of users’ photos, for instance.
Some hoaxes, including the theft of user photos hoax, have gotten so out of hand that Facebook has actually addressed them. Shockingly, they tend to continue even after they have been formally debunked. Another popular one that went around was the hoax that Facebook was going to charge for access at some point, which the site has continually denied.
What Was Her Intention?
Many of the stories that are passed around on Facebook are shared to get a reaction or change of behavior out of people. Perhaps Kim thought that her story would help others be more cautious? Maybe she did get a rubber band placed on her door as a prank and fell for it hook, line, and sinker? Whatever it was, she definitely scared a lot of Facebook users.
Don’t Believe Everything
Whether it’s for attention, out of ignorance, or just to get a laugh at the expense of others, misinformation is passed around on Facebook every day. Next time you see something on Facebook, do your own research before you assume it’s true. There’s no need to get upset or frightened about something that likely isn’t actually happening anyway!