Image of two harmless misinformation memes.

Does ‘Harmless Misinformation’ Exist? Eminem, A Soldier’s Autograph and ‘Patrick Star’ On Trust

In 2011, an anonymous JoyReactor user posted a simple SpongeBob meme that caused a ripple effect across the internet that would only grow stronger over the next 12 years. The meme depicts SpongeBob and Patrick sitting on the floor of SpongeBob’s home. SpongeBob asks Patrick, “What if I break your trust someday?” Patrick replies, “Trusting you is my decision, proving me wrong is your choice.” Assumedly, the entirety of JoyReactor (and 9GAG, where it was seemingly originally posted) wept.

If you have even a basic understanding of SpongeBob Squarepants and who Patrick Star is, you probably know that this quote isn’t real. SpongeBob and Patrick never had a deep conversation about trust. There’s no universe where Patrick, the show’s quintessential dummy character, could say something so profound and serious.

The closest we can even imagine Patrick getting to this is his quote, “the inner machinations of my mind are an enigma,” and that’s a once-off gag that’s played entirely for comedic purposes. The quote presented in the 9GAG meme is a complete fake, but that hasn’t stopped users across social media from confidently sharing it as a SpongeBob quote for over a decade.

VIA 9GAG.COM of O ARS Spongebob: What if I break your trust someday? Patrick: Trusting you is my decision, proving me wrong is your choice.

The quote first started making the rounds on Twitter in 2010, a year before the SpongeBob meme, with attribution to an anonymous speaker rather than SpongeBob. Since the 2011 meme made its splash online, just about every account that’s shared it since has attributed it to SpongeBob and Patrick.

Some of these posts have gained hundreds of thousands of likes and shares, especially on Facebook, where it’s regularly shared to massive virality. As recently as February 2023, the completely unironic Facebook quotes page "Pieces of my Soul" shared the quote to over 170,000 reactions (mostly hearts) and 76,000 shares.

Some of the top comments read, “Such a strong choice of words that pack such a powerful meaning,” “That is deep for a kids show. I don’t even know which episode that’s from,” and “Smartest thing he ever said. Probably the only smart thing he ever said.😂” Some of the commenters, likely those more familiar with the show, call the quote out, but others seem completely fooled that this is a SpongeBob quote.

Joanna Louise Absolutely an amazing line!! 2 Like Reply 3w → 9 Replies Sinclair Moore Turns out Patrick has more wisdom than most 3 Like Reply 3w → 5 Replies ⠀ Karla Hetherington I have NEVER watched this show but THAT is profound!!! Like Reply 3w → 2 Replies Adorableavi Boyce I could imagine how that sounded coming from him Like Reply 3w Michelle Doyle So true, Patrick gets it. So how come men can't Like Reply 3w 3 Replies 10 6 ⠀ ⠀

In the modern era, the internet is filled with misinformation. As far as misinformation goes, a fake SpongeBob quote is presumably the most harmless example. However, it’s still misinformation and while some people are calling it out online, with at least two popular examples of Twitter posts calling it out in 2022, Boomers, non-fans and the unaware are still falling into the trap.

The quote even had some brief virality on TikTok after a user read it straight-faced, claiming it’s from SpongeBob, inspiring roughly 2,000 videos also sharing the quote under the same original sound. For something so easily disproven by a Google search, it’s fascinating that a fake quote like this can go viral for over a decade with so few people calling it out. The quote isn’t the only viral example of this, though.

@chukwuamaka_charity #trust #ichosetotrustyou #CHUKWUAMKA_CHARITY #realtalk #fyp ♬ original sound – Geet ✨ Love, Life & Motivation

One of the most prominent examples of viral, harmless misinfo besides the SpongeBob quote is a story about the rapper Eminem. The story goes that a soldier asked Eminem for his autograph and Eminem replied, “Sure, if I can have yours.” It’s a wholesome, heartwarming story that paints Eminem as a good guy, but as far as we know, it never happened.

The earliest known post sharing the quote was made by Twitter user @d12question in December 2013, which was seemingly a fan and meme page for the rap supergroup D12, of which Eminem was a member. The tweet has no source for the story. It’s possible the quote predates this, but that doesn’t matter as much as the fact that there is no evidence that the story is true.

Eminem has seemingly never talked about it in an interview and there are no news stories covering it. Despite this, the story has been consistently shared across social media ever since it was posted. Looking back to the mid-2010s, you can find multiple examples of non-comedy pages posting the story as an image macro, assumedly sharing it as if it genuinely happened.

8FACT @Eminem Lyrics_ A soldier asked Eminem for his autograph,Eminem replied:sure, if i can have yours

Unlike the SpongeBob quote, the Eminem story has seemingly aged into more of a self-aware, ironic meme than a genuine wholesome tale. It’s been photoshopped and referenced in ironic ways enough times that more internet-savvy people probably get the idea. But if the SpongeBob quote can still go viral on Facebook and Instagram when it’s posted without any semblance of comedic intent, there’s no reason that the fake Eminem quote can’t go viral in exactly the same way in 2023.

Searching for the story on Facebook even brings up posts from as recent as October 2021 (Unknown Knowledge) and February 2023 (Amazing Facts) that gained hundreds of reactions and some comments believing the story without a question of doubt. People love a wholesome story or heartwarming quote and whether it’s true or not doesn’t seem to matter. If it warms the cockles, a good portion of the internet has no problem supporting it.

@oxygen_facts Oxyge U 97/7/00 Facts OXYGEN™ Did you know A Soldier once asked Eminem for his autograph. Eminem replied with, I had sex with your wife

Does it ultimately matter if people believe that SpongeBob and Patrick had a serious discussion about trust, or if people think that Eminem asked a soldier for his autograph? Not on the surface. There are much more pressing examples of misinformation going around every day. Spreading misinformation has become a big meme in the past few years, inspiring things like the "celebrity reveals X" memes, memes about rappers possessing mystical staffs and the popular "Source? I made it up" reaction image.

However, there’s arguably more self-awareness at play in these formats. The fact that these memes are misinformation is often the core of the joke, with the humor lying in the explicit reveal that the memes are spreading misinformation through a reaction image. In the case of SpongeBob and Eminem, it’s completely unclear in most cases that this is misinformation and the posts aren’t really made to make you laugh, but to warm your heart.

The intent is different, but the results are the same: misinformation is being spread online to potentially hundreds of thousands of people, including many without the proper context to refute it (like, presumably, Boomers). The number of people who fall for the Eminem or SpongeBob memes might be seen as an example of just how many people are willing to believe something at face value without so much as a Google search to follow up. Many probably wouldn’t even think to look up whether or not these are true, content to have their heart warmed and move on.

King Koopas Kool Kartoonz @AKoolKoopa I'm actually losing it over how widespread this fake quote is someday Patrick: Trusting you is my decision, proving me wrong is your choice. - Favorite line. L Spongebob: What if I break your trust someday? Patrick: Trusting you is my decision, 2:25 PM - Oct 25, 2022 Lainn PATRICK "Trusting you is my decision, proving me wrong is yours." VIAGGAG.COM ... "What if i break your trust someday?"

While these two pieces of misinformation on their own are harmless, together they potentially paint an interesting picture of how people fall into misinformation just because the content they’re being fed is agreeable to their worldview. The “trust” quote legitimately seems to strike a chord with many and the Eminem story paints someone who might seem like a “gangster” as a goodhearted person.

There are no consequences for mistaking the source of these stories, but the same can’t be said about things like political misinformation and baseless conspiracy theories, both of which tend to appear on the same platforms where these memes are shared. If you’re falling for a fake SpongeBob quote, what are the chances you’ll fall for a much more heinous conspiracy theory that agrees with some part of your brain? We can’t say for sure, but it’s worth considering.

Ultimately, the continued popularity of these pieces of misinfo acts as a reminder to always Google any claim you read online. Some misinformation may be more harmless than other misinformation, but all misinformation runs the risk of helping foster a society of web users who believe an agreeable claim first and ask questions never. The best thing we can do for Eminem and SpongeBob is to keep calling these memes out as misinformation in an entertaining way and hope the callout goes more viral than the quote itself, thus turning the seemingly harmless misinformation into a meme.

me when i consume purposefully spread misinformation on the internet Court documents reveal Young Thug was in possession of an ancient staff which holds unknown power

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