Column: The (not so) true path to happiness

If sound advice isn’t coming from a verified source, how much value can it really have?

For anyone seeking a morale boost in these somewhat troubling times, the virtual cesspool we call Twitter isn’t the first place I’d usually recommend.

It’s a famously snarky platform, where a well intentioned comment or observation can quickly escalate into an ugly exchange of insults.

But, it turns out, it’s also the place to find words of wisdom from none other than Warren Buffett (well, not really, but I’ll get to that).

An American billionaire’s account is not one I would have thought to seek out, but someone retweeted something recently that struck a chord, so I gave it a follow. The account regularly churns out snippets that, as truisms go, are often worth a moment’s consideration.

Among them: “Talk to yourself kindly,” and “Don’t be consumed by what went wrong or what didn’t work out. You’re still learning.”

Often, the tweet will open with a category — a mini thesis statement, if you will — “Signs of maturity; 6 important life lessons; Things that change your life in one year.”

My original thought was that I’d share a bit of it here because, as I said, we’ve been inundated with negativity from nearly every direction lately and it seemed like a good time for a mental palate cleanse.

Imagine my surprise to discover I was following a fake account.

The real Mr. Buffett — now 88 and worth $85 billion US — does have a Twitter account, but he tweets, at most, once or twice a year. Despite the dearth of valuable life advice handed out there, it’s noteworthy that his account still has 1.4 million followers.

Looking back, I probably should have been tipped off by the absence of the blue checkmark and the notion that Warren Buffett would dedicate so much time and energy to a Twitter account .

That wasn’t what finally clued me in, though, I’m embarrassed to admit. Rather, a bit of Googling as I sat down to write this column led me to a BBC story about a fake Warren Buffett account, which after only a few days in existence had already racked up a couple of million likes.

On it, sage bits of life advice were being lapped up by a growing army of tweeps.

The BBC story posited whether the success of the account might “be attributed to our desperation for positive content in these dark times?”

Great question.

Reading a little further, I realized the account they had unmasked was WarrenBuffet99. It has since been suspended.

I, on the other hand, have been following WarrenBuffettHQ. Yes, the account is also a fake, but it’s been around since 2013 and openly acknowledges being a parody (another overlooked clue).

It also contains the same helpful lists for living well that the suspended account reportedly posted. So it appears that one fake account was ripping off another — Twitter’s version of Inception.

All the fakery aside — and there are many parody accounts out there, so it’s nothing new — “not actually Warren Buffett” has offered some pretty solid advice for staying positive and making progress in your life.

And unlike another famous rich guy’s verified account, it involves no malice. Nobody is being threatened or badmouthed. It’s not filled with complaints about perceived slights or self-aggrandizing claims.

The fact the posts aren’t actually being made by Buffett shouldn’t devalue the advice, but of course it makes it all seem just that little bit less authoritative.

You might ask yourself, if it’s not necessarily the path to unlimited wealth, why should I bother to “read and learn continuously,” or be “grateful, empathetic and respectful?”

Do I really need “six rules to lead a healthy life” if they’re not coming straight from the obscenely rich horse’s mouth?

These are questions we can only answer for ourselves.

But if I might share a few words of wisdom I saw on an unverified Twitter account the other day, “You don’t need anyone’s permission to be: grateful, honest, forgiving, generous, kind, mindful (or) happy.”

Least of all, a phony billionaire’s.

Just Posted

Police dog helps apprehend ‘prolific’ property crime offender near Surrey, Langley border

Douglas Holmes, 47, has been charged with break and enter of a business on the Langley Bypass

VIDEO: Crooks use truck, sledgehammer to break into Langley stores

Thieves have hit two Brookswood stores in commercial burglaries in the last month.

COMMUTER ALERT: Serious pedestrian crash closes Pacific Highway

Traffic along 176th Street, 4th to 8th Avenue, is blocked while Mounties continue to investigate.

B.C. Sports Hall of Fame to give Giants owner Ron Toigo W.A.C. Bennett Award

Head of Langley-based team has been involved with junior hockey since the 1990s

Church invites all faiths to a labyrinth walk

The labyrinth at St. Dunstan’s church is inviting everyone to an interfaith gathering on Nov. 18.

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Children’s strawberry-flavoured medicines recalled due to faulty safety cap

Three different acetaminophen syrups part of nationwide recall

Around the BCHL: Junior A cities to host World Junior tuneup games

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the league and around the junior A world.

International students hit hard by B.C. tuition fee hikes

Campaign seeks regulatory controls be imposed on post-secondary institutions

Trudeau pushes for more Saudi accountability in Khashoggi killing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is still seeking clear answers from Saudi Arabia about what happened to Jamal Khashoggi

School bullying video shows how people with disabilities are devalued: advocates

Brett Corbett, who has cerebral palsy, is seen in a video being stepped while lying in water

CFL will use extra on-field official to watch for illegal blows to quarterback

If the extra official sees an illegal blow that has not already been flagged, they will advise the head referee, who can then assess a penalty for roughing the passer

Older B.C. drivers subsidizing younger ones, study finds

ICBC protects higher-risk drivers, pays for testing costs

5 to start your day

A choice on light rail versus SkyTrain for Surrey, a Chilliwack teacher suspended for touching a colleague’s buttocks and more

Most Read