Have you ever seen an article title and thought to yourself:
Wow, I can relate.
Wow, powerful stuff.
Wow, sounds interesting.
Wow, ain't that the truth.
Many of us do, and then bam- we like, share, and onto the next post without reading the content.
I do this and here is why I'm trying to stop:
This year I made it a goal of mine to read a minimum of three articles a day for two main reasons.
1) To increase the depths and breadth of topics I find interesting.
2) To work on my writing style by observing others' writing styles. Although extensive reading is not my favorite thing, 'read to become a better writer' has been ingrained into my brain since returning to university.
I would say 60% of my reading beyond school comes from social media outlets. Although factual journalism is harder to find these days on social media, I am sure to fact check news outlets for bias: fact check, fact check, fact check. I do not limit my reading to 'academic' reading. I read creative writing, opinion pieces and other blogs. What I have learned is, what you 'see' most of the time is not necessarily what you get.
What I'm about to say is completely subjective, and I'm sure others have their own experiences. I've caught myself liking and potentially sharing articles without reading them. I save them for later or just enjoy the ring of the title. I've gone back to said article, horrified to read that the content is largely against my own thoughts and perspectives. Sometimes, the content is just unsound.
Why I think this is important to point out:
In this day and age, the sharing and liking of content is becoming more and more diluted and with that comes multiple perspectives. I am 100% for freedom of speech and for those to write as they do but my point is, content we share is content we endorse. It is content we are giving more attention to that could be harmful or nonfactual. It is content that we are associating with ourselves and potentially our ideologies. Hey, you might be conscious of the perspectives you are promoting, but this is for those who are not.
Of course, there is always satire. It is hard not to come by it and it is getting harder to differentiate from factual reporting. Additionally, satire can have hidden agendas (from extreme left to right politics) that I believe we need to be more aware of.
As cliche as it sounds, with the privilege and power of information, comes responsibility. Whether it is a self-help article with a title like,"It's Not Your Job to Heal Others" to news coverage like, "COVID Vaccination Found", it is our job to look into what we are sharing. Is it factual? Does this outlet show bias? Am I promoting misleading or harmful information? Does this article speak true to me, through and through? These are a few questions I ask myself.
I have no real conclusion to this idea, I just hope to stimulate some awareness. One of the most dangerous tools I see in the world right now is the promotion of misleading information, from hidden hate speech to toxic health and 'mindfulness' perspectives. It is up to you to decide what is worth sharing, what you believe needs to be heard and to leave out what you think is BS. This filtering looks different for everyone, but it is a power we all hold.
This is a website I like to use to check out bias for certain media outlets: https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/