In the past year, I have seen a growing trend in the social media posts that I see … fear. I don’t really know where to go with this post as I write it. I could easily talk about all the fear that is in articles today talking about personal health
- doctors say these 5 foods you should never eat
- 2 exercises you must never do
- don’t you dare exercise before bed
- don’t you ever eat this food before bed
- don’t ever eat this for breakfast
Or articles I see from parents:
- these 5 apps you MUST delete from your kid’s phones
- don’t have your kids on screens until they are at least 5
- don’t you dare do this as a parent …
Or news articles
- what really happened at …
- the truth about …
- The real story about …
- Here are the Facts …
- _____ destroys someone who believes in _______
- The Eclipse on Aug 22nd was the date of the 2nd coming of Jesus. (I read 2 dozen Facebook messages and as you can tell they were all wrong)
Or the crazy stories that have come across my social media feeds recently (actual articles)
- Justin Bieber: Pedophiles Run The ‘Evil’ Music Industry
- Katy Perry Dragged off Stage as Monarch Mind Control Meltdown Goes Viral
- Police: Chester Bennington Was Murdered
Is it just me or have we lost any basic critical reflection as a society? Many people seem to believe and share anything that comes to their social media feeds without doing any checking.
Let me say something that I would hope you already know:
Just because it is on the internet does not mean it is true.
I would also say that just because you want something to be true, or feel something is true does not make it true.
Something is true because it is true.
I also know that there are differing sides to any topic and that is where the good healthy debate comes in to play. We must be able to challenge the status quo in areas but it has to be done with facts and not fear.
There are some assumptions with the language in all of these articles:
- We really don’t know what is happening but the person posting does
- If we only “opened our eyes” we would see that is truly happening
- For some articles, there is this vast conspiracy that if we only knew the facts we would believe
- We are pretty stupid as people and need to “get with the program” and what is really going on
So how do we move from what all of these articles have in common – fear; and look towards teaching people how to learn what is true or not.
Let’s just take one online article and see if we can learn how to distinguish the difference between fake articles and real ones.
A few weeks ago Chester Beddington from the band Linken Park took his own life. As someone who struggles with anxiety/depression, these stories always hit close to home. Within days I saw people posting this article on social media talking about how he did not commit suicide but was murdered. This shifts all the conversation on mental health, suicide prevention, supporting friends and family etc (where the conversations should be) and moves it to a homicide investigation which by the way is just not true. So how do we know something is just not true.
I had some conversation with a few people related to this article and no matter what I said they could not think any other way other than this article was true. I had statements like “It might be true”, or “I think it is true”. We need to use some thought as we look online. I like the infographic below. It asks you to look at things from 8 perspectives.
So looking at this article about Chester being murdered.
- Consider the Source – the website YourNewsWire.com is not one I have ever heard of. A quick google search shows all kinds of people talking about how this site is a fake news site. Even the site itself has a tab for conspiracies. Not a site that I would trust for news.
- Check the author – The article says the author is Baxter Dmitry. A quick search and there is really no information on this guy. Not something a credible news source would be. Even their own website has basically no information.
- Check the date – There is a date for this article. It is not an older article being reposted which happens to often.
- Check your Biases – this is always a tough one. I do come from the bias that this article is false and fake news. We all come at the news with a bias. I just want there to be something in this article that is newsworthy and not all hearsay. For me to move to another direction there has to be something real to make me move in that direction.
- Read beyond – We need to go further than the headlines. I get it. The headline says Chester was murdered and then we have to look beyond that.
- Supporting Sources – this is where this article falls apart. From what I can see there are basically no sources. It says “police have reportedly launched a murder investigation? Did they or did they not? The title of the article says he WAS murdered. The police either did or did not launch an investigation. It says that “insiders beliving that it is extremely likely”. So which insiders? Who are” they”? The entire article is the same. No real evidence and lots of generalizations and no proof.
- Is it a joke – to be honest, I assumed it was when I first read it due to the shoddily written article with no sources but I think that there are people who actually believe this
- Ask the experts. Sites like Snopes say this is fake and if you read the comments in this article people then call Snopes fake. There are no experts arguing this. No real reporters or actual facts.
There is another great website that I would encourage people to go through. https://checkology.org They have a number of great videos to walk through 4 main steps to decide if something is real or fake. They talk about how anything posted could be made to entertain as opposed to inform. Great thoughts.
- Filtering News and Information
- Exercising Civic Freedoms
- Navigating Today’s Information Landscape
- How to know what to believe
I think that we have to be really careful what we post these days. We live in a world where anyone can post a blog or news article online. In our current culture we have a responsibiltiy to not be perpetuating any articles that are just not real. Before you post to take some time to think through what you are posting, sharing and “liking” online.
Love to hear any comments on this. How do you discern real news from fake or fear based news?