# Facebook Fake Featuring Sergeant Jill Stevens

I saw the image above on Facebook. It is entirely typical of what Facebook is: a photo sharing website. And by and large, what people share is crap. And when it isn’t, it is generally something I’ve seen dozens of times before in similar forms. It’s especially concerning when it is political stuff that I agree with, because it is often pushing things that are not quite right. It’s very hard for me to stop myself from responding, “I agree. But it’s slightly more complicated than that.” Most Facebook users don’t do complicated. However, they do do what I can only call “Facebook Fakes.”

The image above is a Facebook Fake. When I texted a link to it to Elizabeth, her instant reaction was, “Fake.” She’s a sophisticated Facebook user. (Many of my friends are and they try to save me from myself — mostly just trying to get me to not be so obviously clueless.) So I think she instinctively knew. But she didn’t notice what made me immediately tag it as a Facebook Fake: the typesetting. So yes, before I continue on, it is necessary for me to discuss a fine point of editing.

## Typesetting for Fakers

The typesetting of large numbers is a problem. For example, what is the number: 4294967295000? It’s hard to say. So in all languages that I know of, we use digit groupings. What’s more, the standard grouping (at least in the west) is three digits. So here in America, we would typeset the number: 4,294,967,295,000. So it’s easy to determine that it is 4.3 trillion, whereas it wasn’t with “4294967295000.”

Interestingly, Americans do not use digital grouping on the right side of zero. So we would in general see a highly precise number typeset like this: 0.4294967295. It makes a certain amount of sense in that case. But what about this case: 0.00000004294967295? It would be a whole lot more helpful to typeset it like this: 0.000,000,042,949,672,95. Easy: 0.042… micro-whatever.

But while the comma is used for the separator here in the US, it isn’t used everywhere. Some countries use spaces. And others use periods (generally then using the comma for the decimal point). Hence: 4.294.967.295.000 — still quite clear.

## Now Back to Our Facebook Fake

If you read this whole Facebook Fake, it’s pretty clear. It is very sloppy and pidginized, “I am American soldier”?! But the first thing I noted was that the digit grouping marker was a period and not a comma. I dare say most Americans don’t even know that a lot of countries use periods, just as the creator of this Facebook Fake apparently didn’t know that other countries (specifically, America) use commas.

It probably doesn’t speak well of me that I delight in this kind of stuff. But there are many reasons why I am a writer, and this is one of them. People communicate things with words that they never intend. In this case, “I’m not American!”

## The Truth Behind the Facebook Fake

The woman in the photo is Sergeant Jill Stevens. According to Wikipedia, “She is a combat medic in the Utah Army National Guard.” What’s more, she was Miss Utah in 2007. The original image extends higher, and it includes the quote (brackets in original):

Seeing how women are treated [in Afghanistan] was sad. In the villages, I’d take my helmet off to show I’m a woman and I’m respected, and that women do have worth.

So the Facebook Fake was the image of an American soldier who did an 18-month tour in Afghanistan. But the rest, well, no. Beyond the absurdity that her sergeant would send her home based on Facebook likes, Stevens is a Sergeant. Also, that photo of her appears to be from 2008. She was deployed from 2004-2005. And having listened to her speak, I can’t imagine her mangling the language so. Finally, she’s far too media conscious to put out an image that looks that bad.

I like to think that one of my skills is being able to create a teachable moment out of anything. I think this Facebook Fake is a good example.

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Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

## 11 thoughts on “Facebook Fake Featuring Sergeant Jill Stevens”

1. I find it funny to be described as a “sophisticated” anything. *laughs*

I knew it was fake because the military doesn’t work that way. And I didn’t even notice the bottom part so that is why I didn’t get the grammar issue.

• I actually thought for a second it was a witty mockery of Internet memes. Everything about it is wrong, from what you and Frank observe, to the different fonts on top and bottom. But it’s just a fake.

Question: if you were in a US-occupied country, and didn’t know it was a fake, would you vote “like” to send another occupier home, or refuse to “like” because the soldiers who want to go home are probably the least psychotic ones? I dunno …

• Yes, there are many giveaways. But, “Sophisticated: aware of and able to interpret complex issues.” I guess you are rebelling against its use in advertising and pop culture such as “sophisticated lady.” But I never use it like that.

• For some, certainly. But if one were dealing with money, a modified for would be in order: \$51.3×1012. For a general audience: \$51.3 trillion. But even with 5 digits, a separator is really helpful.

2. The mere notion that some nameless NCO had/has the power to shorten some Molly’s OCONUS tour because of Facebook “likes” is so patently ridiculous that you’d pretty much have to be 1) an utter moron, or 2) someone who has absolutely no experience with the U.S. armed forces or know anyone currently deployed to believe it.

That said, if you created a Venn diagram of 1) and 2) you’d pretty much end up covering about 85% of all Facebook users. So there’s that.

And, FWIW, the other thing I was bugged by is that the trooper is out of uniform (she’s not wearing her shirt) AND her undershirt looks…wrong. Both the cut (not baggy enough) and the color (a pale rather than a medium brown) aren’t right for an issue Army t-shirt.