Don’t believe everything you see online

Don’t believe everything you see online

Don’t believe everything you see online
June 08
15:22 2018

I’m sure we have all heard that aphorism which tells us “not everything on the internet is true.” This is especially the case with social media. With so many opinions and information coming in from all sides, it’s easy to just trust everything that’s fighting for our attention.

When the information is positive or reassuring or fits our own agendas, it is even easier to accept automatically. But it is important to combat the urge to take everything at face value for many reasons.

The greatest example of this is the fake news phenomenon and the fact that the average American is getting most of their news from social media. Now, this would not be a problem if we could maintain a high level of legitimacy and quality in the news we get from social platforms, but it’s become clear that this is increasingly difficult to achieve.

As we’ve seen, Facebook has attempted to reign in the number of fake news articles shared on its site. The amount of fake news on Facebook is extremely worrying because fake news has the power to sway people into political action. This has the potential to, and often does, affect every other aspect of life.

It’s become more common for the average citizen to believe the majority of what they see on the internet, especially on social media.

We cannot be bothered to check the sources, the trustworthiness of the people spreading the information or the possibility that what we’re seeing has been fabricated. This is partly due to the way we’re educated in the American school system, where creative thinking is not encouraged as much as making good grades is. We are not taught much about critical thinking, or even encouraged to practice it. We’re taught to absorb as much information as we can, and regurgitate it on standardized tests.

Great ways to quickly determine the quality of the information we’re taking in is checking the URL and domain for anything iffy, checking the comments to see what others are saying about its legitimacy, scrutinizing the quotes in a story and even reverse image searching.

An issue not as immediately pressing is the amount of social ideals online that young people are pressured to attain. There’s pressure to be successful by the age of 25, have a certain kind of romantic partner, have babies, etc. We don’t take the time to stop and realize that everyone has different timelines and what works for us might not work for someone else. And it usually doesn’t.

With the sheer amount of information on the internet, it can feel near impossible to check the legitimacy — and furthermore, the importance — of everything that grazes our eyes. But it is vital to try our best to do so. It’s the first step in thinking critically, and for ourselves.

Featured Illustration by Allison Shuckman

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Maritza Ramos

Maritza Ramos

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