The Big Idea: Don’t Believe Everything You See on the Internet

young man doing facepalm


I know, I know…you’re staring at the title, thinking “Dr. Shurtz is not serious, is he?”

You would think we wouldn’t have to state something so obvious, but the tragic thing is there are people in the world, maybe even people sitting next to you at work or across the dinner table, who will believe anything if they see something incredible online. Whether it is a meme reporting a shocking truth, a quick recipe promising an incredible feast on a shoestring budget, or a “life hack” that can help you save money, social media is proving true the old adage: There’s a sucker born every minute.

Before you take umbrage with this inconvenient truth, allow me to present Exhibit A – the new iPhone 7. There was quite an uproar over Apple’s decision to not have an earphone jack, that uproar growing even louder when the tech giant recommended expensive Bose headphones as the “best” alternative for plugging in. Dyed-in-the-Wool Apple fanatics were incensed and, pardon the pun, were feeling a bit fleeced after investing into the latest and greatest form Cupertino. However, as dogged consumers are in trying to unlock a conspiracy born from corporate greed, a video surfaced on YouTube that revealed Apple had indeed put a jack into the new iPhone, only covering it up in order to sell more of their wireless headphones. So how does an iPhone 7 user access this hidden jack? Drill a hole into the phone and e voila—the headphone jack becomes accessible! Over 15 million people watched this life hack video…

…and those who actually followed the step-by-step instructions discovered the hard way that this video was an elaborate prank.

TechRax were the creators behind this YouTube tutorial demonstrating how to make your own iPhone jack, hidden from consumers by those greedy Apple executives. “This is perfectly normal,” says a friendly voice in response to the iPhone’s display flickering wildly once clamped into a vice. “This means you’re on your way to getting a brand new headphone jack.” Then a power drill rips into the iPhone and creates a power jack ready for use. “There you go,” the voice announces. “There’s your iPhone jack.” The TechRax narrator even plugs in the signature white headphones jack into the hole and, without fail, music starts playing.

Now, a few things to note here:

  • The power drill uses a bit exactly right-sized bit for an iPhone jack, but the narrator never reveals what size you should be using.
  • The headphones jack is unmistakably the iPhone headphones jack, so why does it sound like music is coming out of speakers and not headphones?
  • Nowehere in the video does the life hack tutorial mention exactly where to drill on the bottom of the iPhone. From the looks of the video, it’s an educated guess.

 And yet people believed this! TechRax’s creator, Taras Maksimuk, says he now gets all sorts of people complaining that their iPhone won’t work anymore. And as this drill is not accidental but intentional damage from the user, of course, this “life hack” voids the warranty.

Before you shake your head in complete befuddlement at that, here’s Exhibit B—the iPhone 6 and iOS8’s hidden built-in feature “Wave” where you can use your microwave to charge your phone. While the entire notion sounds ridiculous, iPhone users eager to find out more about their new iOS placed their phones into the microwave and waited to see how Wave would change everything.

Oh, it did. Dramatically.

Funnier still, a tutorial appeared on YouTube the day after this story broke…

Yes, that is TechRax. The same people behind this iPhone 7 prank.

TechRax specializes in “smashing technology for your pleasure” such as testing whether the iPhone will survive in a microwave (the answer is they don’t) or five minutes in a bowl of nitrogen (and the answer is no).

So while you may think common sense and verifications are not really a Big Idea, think twice. And verify. You may just become a bit smarter that way.



shurtz.jpgA research physicist who has become an entrepreneur and educational leader, and an expert on competency-based education, critical thinking in the classroom, curriculum development, and education management, Dr. Richard Shurtz is the president and chief executive officer of Stratfdord University. He has published over 30 technical publications, holds 15 patents, and is host of the weekly radio show, Tech Talk. A noted expert on competency-based education, Dr. Shurtz has conducted numerous workshops and seminars for educators in Jamaica, Egypt, India, and China, and has established academic partnerships in China, India, Sri Lanka, Kurdistan, Malaysia, and Canada.



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