It’s 7 a.m. and I’ve found an article on my newsfeed. “You’ll give up on humanity when you see what Trump said,” the title reads.
The comments section is a roiling mass of angry people, hurling insults in all caps.
I don’t claim to support Trump, and there’s plenty of things he’s said that I don’t like, but I know a quote taken out-of-context when I see it.
When your message can be so easily altered with the goal of eliciting a response taking priority over education, that’s when we need to step in and educate ourselves.
Social media offers instant access to all of the world’s information, but it’s so easy to disseminate misinformation, and it’s so hard to tell the difference between what’s credible and what’s not.
I see an article shared by a friend on Facebook. “You see, this is why I hate this guy” he writes to the 20 people who’ll read his status.
Articles like these aren’t like a satire publication, such as The Onion, where every aspect is designed in such a way that a casual glance at it on your newsfeed will reveal it isn’t serious.
When you look at an Onion article, the first thing you see is the joke.
Social media users have an obligation to research what they’re told, to examine content with the scrutiny of meeting their BFF’s significant other for the first time.
And this attitude ought to follow when we’re offline. Keep in mind that every point raised about a current event, a political topic, or a celebrity, is always going to be colored by people’s personal opinions and biases.
I have a professor who loves making jokes about Fox News during lecture, but while he clearly has his reservations about the network, he always encourages us to draw our own conclusions, rather than take his words as scripture.
It’s OK to consume these ideas from others. There’s nothing inherently wrong with taking people’s thoughts on board and shaping your own reasoning around them.
However, if it engenders a passivity toward learning and forming our own opinions on topics, then that’s where problems start to arise.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to devote oneself to researching and scrutinizing everything we’re told, and to think for ourselves.
Literally, never stop educating yourselves and rise above the clickbait.