When I was teaching at Towson University, I had a few class rules. One of my most stringent was that the Internet could not be the sole or first source of information for papers and presentations. Was it easier for students to simply sit in front of a computer and type key words into a search block? Yes. Was it the best source for information? Not back then and certainly not even now. My students couldn't always grasp that just because it was on the internet, didn't mean the info was verified or correct. Anyone with a keyboard and/or an agenda can add noise without substance to the Internet. As President Reagan said so well, "Trust but verify!" Multiple sources are usually needed.
Maybe this isn't important to everyone, but remember, I was teaching students whose aspirations were to be professional communicators. And, I believe those professionals need to hold themselves to the highest standard of fact gathering and checking.
In terms of posting to social media, people don't seem to understand the importance of being factual, true, or accurate. Is the post real? Is the story correct? They simply re-post things without checking first. I wish I had a dollar for every time I've seen a post with comments,"You need to check this, it's not true." Or, "This is an urban legend!"
Even more amazing is that, even after it's proved wrong, some simply leave it up! A testament to the notion that fiction travels at least three times faster than the truth! If you learn it's incorrect, take it down off your wall!
In the current political climate and the horribly divisive world we now occupy, I believe it's more critical than ever to know that what we post is real. At least the facts should be real because how we feel about the facts is enough of a powder keg these days to set off fights and bad feelings way more than is necessary.
It's interesting that people easily find info via the internet or on social media and don't stop to think that it's just as easy to check facts before posting. There are dozens of sites, the sole purpose of which, are to give you the facts.
I like Snopes. And even though it has come under fire as being liberal leaning, I don't worry about that. I use them to get baseline confirmation of authenticity.
FactCheck is the other site that I rely upon, especially for political stories.
It's ironic that people can't tolerate having anyone lie to their face, but they don't seem to understand that a lie in print is just as damaging or frustrating as a verbal lie. Maybe even more so because verbals fade, but once something's in print- it's always there.
The Managing Editor of Snopes, Brooke Brankowski, has the right take on this issue, "If it arouses an emotional response in you- if you see the headline and go, 'I can't believe this, I'm so angry,'- then it's probably something you need to check against something else."
If reading something causes an immediate strong reaction, it's always best to check it. Your gut is, generally, a great lie detector! Trust it!
Posting things that you don't know to be correct is the social media version of gossip! If you can't abide gossip in real time, don't let your social media posts be gossip!
While most people make it their goal to never speak an untruth, we all need to start holding ourselves to the same standard in terms of what we post.
You can trust me. I always check my facts before posting them for your consumption. I promise not to lie to you with my mouth or my posts. I hope you'll all join me in this important challenge.
Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Tells The Truth