In the era of social media and the interwebs, the sheer volume of data we have access to is mind-boggling. On one hand, having all the information your little heart desires merely a tap away creates the potential for great things. Learning. Networking. Connection. Growth.
On the other side of the coin, however, is a big ol’ dirty wad of misinformation. Gross.
Humans are natural cherry-pickers. When we find other like-minded creatures with the same ideals and opinions, it’s self-affirming and gives us a sense of ‘tribe’. Those other, not-so-tasty cherries? Meh, chuck ‘em. Access to social media makes this happen on a global scale. Just let that sink in. Billions of people picking through truths and falses to suit their moral compass, banding together in various boiling pots of outrage and self-righteousness.
That’s how you get ‘alternative facts’ and online lynch mobs.
It’s easy to fall into our own little internet petri dishes of non-challenging data, but it’s prudent to look up now and then lest opinions blur into facts.
Like wildfires, only you can help prevent the spread of misinformation:
Question. Fucking. Everything.
Did Jenny Penny share some crazy news story or article on social media? Before you feel compelled to spread the virus, check the sources first to see if they’re credible (is it from a hard left- or right-wing publication? Opinion piece? States ‘facts’ without sources to back them up?).
Be outraged with confidence.
Cross your t’s and dot your i’s. It’s easy to feel like something’s right if you’re passionate about it, but nothing hurts your cause more than dodgy information. Do your homework before getting on the soapbox.
Check out the grass on the other side.
It might make you feel a bit uncomfortable, but check out the argument on the ‘other side’. Try to be unbiased. Is there a grain (or a pillar) of truth there? Be malleable enough to revisit your opinions in the face of hard facts.
Be smart. Be open. Don’t be a dick. That’s how you win the internet*.