There’s so much going on in today’s world and so many media avenues willing to spread the shock and awe of it all that sometimes it’s hard not to get swept along in sensationalism. On one hand you want to count yourself an informed citizen and someone who passes on useful news to your relative community. But how do you stop from being used as a tool by extremists who pass on trumped up “news” with divisive intentions?
I’m a skeptic, so it’s really second nature for me to automatically research information before taking it as “gospel”. But even as careful as I try to be I sometimes fall prey to “runteldat” characteristics when faced with information that provokes an emotional response. Sometimes it’s hard not to in this “trust no one/fear everything” society we’re raised in. But when given “intelligence” that seems to harp on fear more than truth or seems just to idealistic for words, immediate red flags should unfurl and promote us to dig deeper. By the time most reach the age of consent we’re well versed on how to tell rumour from news, so why do we so often miss the mark when discerning such things in our social media streams?
One of my rules of thumb has always been if something seems too perfect or too closely aligned with a particular school of thought, offering a one sided view of the topic at hand, chances are it’s propaganda and warrants a fine tooth comb examination. Second rule of thumb, if it causes a knee jerk response of anger or fear, or seems to pit one social/political/racial group against the other, there is definitely more to the story than is being presented. Next, I look at how the information is worded. If you have several different sources reporting a story using the exact same descriptions, buzz/trigger words in a society where it’s difficult to get two people to agree on just what makes vanilla their favourite ice cream flavour, then generally there’s something at work behind the scenes purposely molding our perspectives according to an agenda. And I always, ALWAYS, consider the source of the information before playing town crier. As corrupt as society has become I find it hard to believe the powers that be would leave it to “word of mouth” Facebook shares to broadcast life or death situations. Or maybe I’m being way to rational.
At any rate, think on this the next time you decide to share “news” of a shock and awe nature before taking the time to be sure it’s true or truly newsworthy. While many a revolution has been born by citizens banding together and exchanging information “the powers that be” try to hide from public eye, you do the struggle injustice by ignorantly spreading falsehoods Henny Penny style.