The rate of misinformation is growing, especially now that we’re on high alert for illness, looking for normalcy, and the political cycle is in full swing.
As we’re looking more and more to social media for news alerts and information, I’m seeing so many of my friends and family wondering where to look for the truth in the news. “We just can’t trust anything anymore” or “there is no unbiased information online” are common themes I’m hearing from them.
I’ve working in social media marketing for the last 5 years, studying how ads are targeted and what words are going to trigger clicks and sales. The amount of information each of us gives online to marketers is incredible. I find myself simultaneously fascinated and floored by what Target knows about me and where their ads show up online. (Find some privacy tips here!) But the things that I find that bother me the most aren’t the ones that are clearly selling me something. It’s the articles that claim to be true but are not.
What can we do to sort through fact and fiction (misinformation)?
I find myself turning to ISTE, who uses only research-backed information and experts in their field as resources for people like you and me. This article talks about how we can assess the articles and videos we encounter and determine if they are telling the truth or trying to trigger us into feeling something.
Every day we encounter posts that claim fact when they are simply opinion. Some are blatant while triggering our emotions, others are more subtle. The key is to recognize our emotions and what words trigger them and why. We are being manipulated by secondary news platforms for our clicks. Misinformation latches on to our feelings for the sake of money. If it feels like a simple explanation to a complex problem, they are probably selling you something – or in reality selling you for something.
So when you find yourself fuming and/or scared, S.T.O.P.
S – STEP BACK: Pause and take a breath. It’s ok to come back to this later, or never.
T – THINK: Think about what triggered your emotions, identify the emotions by name.
O – OBSERVE: Where did this post come from? What is the motivation of this post? Is this from a primary, secondary, or tertiary source? Is this news or opinion?
P – PLAN: Consider your named emotions and what you’ve observed, then make a little plan for next time you encounter a similar situation.
This just happened to me last week. I encountered a post that I KNEW was false news, or at best an opinion piece and my chest and brain nearly exploded! So, I took a step back to take a deep breath with my eyes closed. The emotions I identified while thinking were: fear, frustration, and sadness. The post was observed to be an opinion piece by somebody not an expert in the topic’s field. And then I made a plan – whenever I see an article that upsets me, I will click out of that browser or app and walk around my house/office. I can go back and research why this article appeals to people later when I am more calm, or instead I can completely move on from it.
Next time you run into upsetting articles, remember to S.T.O.P. It is so important to incorporate mindfulness in your daily tech use that we teach it to our students, parents, and community. Let us know how mindfulness works for you on our social media, or through firstname.lastname@example.org!
– Tay Gudmundson
PR/Marketing Director, Digital Respons-Ability