With another mass shooting gone viral, Patrick Sallee urges us to become more informed — not just to share information.
People talk about the power of social media. And it is true, it can be an amazingly effective tool to connect people, to help others, to impact lives locally, across the country and around the world.
But it also has the power to take false information and spread it like wildfire. To provide access to angry extremists looking for the chance to connect with jihadists around the globe…or rile up gun wielding domestic terrorist over issues they view as challenging to their ideologies.
Following the terrorist attacks in Paris last month, and essentially overnight, everyone became an “expert” on the United States Refugee Resettlement Program. The arguments on social media have been far ranging and reliably inaccurate. This was the latest of many issues that prompts both sides of a debate to bombard social media timelines with false info used to reinforce their beliefs. Rarely do we use the issue of an international news story to take a minute and look up facts…to truly understand the case we are making.
The next Facebook argument that convinces someone to change their mind will be the first time that happened…in history. We post our beliefs, without much research, and then spend ridiculous amounts of time arguing with “friends” and strangers about things that likely never come to fruition.
Just yesterday there was another mass shooting. There have been more mass shootings in the US this year than actual days. While it is absolutely horrific that this is the country we live in, all you can expect is a range of “thoughts and prayers” posts on Facebook followed by opposing arguments about what the problem is. More guns! Less guns! They were a lone wolf with mental health issues! Fix the system! On and on and on.
It’s the same shit. And no one takes the time to educate themselves on what the issues are at play.
There is an overload of information and somehow it has made us all less intelligent. We have less time, shorter attention spans and no willingness to take the time necessary to learn. We manipulate our timelines to be filled with articles and information we agree with. Then we want to be the first to share, using it as a supporting argument for our absolute, black and white beliefs.
We are all a part of the problem! We blame the media as being biased. We blame politicians, and those pretending to be, because they have the loudest platforms. But we all play a part in this. We all have a voice and we choose to keep ourselves uninformed.
In a speech delivered in 1958 to the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Edward R. Murrow articulated the challenges with rapid changes in technology and the responsibility of the news broadcasters. I would submit that his words, and the warning he was delivering that day, are more true today than they were when he said them. And they are true for all of us, not just for journalists.
“It is not necessary to remind you that the fact that your voice is amplified to the degree where it reaches from one end of the country to the other does not confer upon you greater wisdom than you possessed when your voice reached only from one end of the bar to the other.” — Edward R. Murrow
The news cycle is light years faster than it was in 1958, so less fact checking and research happens, even with journalists. We post to Twitter and Facebook and instantly our opinion can be shared around the world…and yet, as Murrow perfectly described, we are certainly no more intelligent or better informed.
Photo credit: Flickr/pDk7mj