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Separate the wheat from the chaff

a personal choice that affects you and others

We live in a fast-paced age, unlike ever before in human history, where every day we are bombarded with an incredibly vast amount of information. We also opened to an infinite stream of data from all directions and sources due to the incredibly rapid growth and proliferation of digital technology, the internet, social media, etc. We should all accept that it is a two-edge sword as it allows us unprecedented access to whatever knowledge there is as it makes us vulnerable to false truths, lying, disinformation, conspiracy theories, digital exploitation, and so on, when unregulated.

how news influences us

We are no longer just receivers, observers, and passive judges of the world around us, not at all. With all these options and instant access to the ether of the world available to each of us, it was only natural and expected that we would quickly jump into this great ocean of information and become active participants in it. So, we have done and started creating, producing, managing our own information on the world stage, making our voice heard in front of the global audience, and disseminating and supporting the information we like. It is all great, but this power comes with a great responsibility. They are hand in hand with each other.

Everything that is published has an immense influence on people who read, listen to, or watch. It affects our emotions, our thinking, and our world view, but most importantly, it shapes our beliefs, changes our values, and inspires our behavior. Whether we like it or not, whether we are conscious of it or not.

It works both ways, of course, in a positive and a negative sense. People can benefit greatly from getting proper information and communication from reliable news and verified sources, and they can be inspired, educated, motivated and open-minded. On the other hand, they can also be easily provoked, irritated, angry, vengeful, deceived, misled, and totally misinformed by those who publish or disseminate unsubstantial and untruthful information from false, unreliable sources.

why do people believe fake news

According to Sorough Vasoughi, PhD at Dartmouth University et al., who conducted a research study on the spread of news on Twitter from 2006 to 2017, where 126,000 stories spread to ~3 million people found that fake news spreads faster than the truth, and that false rumors and fake headlines reached more people than real news. How is that possible?

According to the above research and some other studies and surveys (see the sources) there are quite a few reasons for this:

  • People tend to believe things that are in keeping with their worldview and partisan alignment affects their judgment. That makes them evaluate news more favorably when they support their own beliefs. Ideological bias is typically caused by intuitive processes.

  • People do not think carefully – they think lazily. The discernment of the truth from the lie improves with more time.

  • Analytical reasoning affects people's ability to distinguish fake headlines from real news headlines.

  • Believing in fake news is socially reinforced many times when people follow someone they like and resonate with the person who then posts fake news. When it is an influencer, the effect is even more widespread and persuasive.

  • When people use social media as the only provider of news, they are more susceptible to fake news. Social media is full of unverified, misleading statements and information due to lack of prior verification or sanctions for false claims. Social media is associated with more misconceptions.

  • The current media and political environment in a society plays a significant role, especially with lower confidence in mainstream media and greater trust in government when the side people favor is in power.

how to recognize fake news

1. Stop and think about the material and make no hasty conclusions or assumptions.

2. Check the source, check whether there is a particular authority, don't just blindly follow.

3. Check the data from various sources, not just from social media, but also from news media,

science organizations, academia, scholars, etc.

share positive vibes

Today, more than ever, it is particularly important, for the sake of not just one individual but of the entire society, that we understand how powerful and meaningful our vigilance and verification is when it comes to the acceptance and sharing of information that we are exposed to.

When we learn how to avoid being drawn into the web of disinformation, lies, deceit and wild conspiracy theories, we can change the contents of our "inbox" and discard anything that does not resonate with positive emotions. Ask yourself what gives you pleasure, what makes you happy and satisfied instead of angry, upset, jealous, hateful... check your sources of information, your feeds, who you follow and who you connect with. Be wise, listen to your feelings and claim the right to be well educated. Also, be aware of what you share with others and how you interact with everyone.

Each of us bears a great responsibility for the news that we produce, publish and distribute, because we make a powerful contribution to the collective state of mind and to the values of our communities, our countries and the world as a whole.


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