The world in its current state is a complicated place. As humans, we try to uncomplicate things by understanding them better. Our attempt to better understand the world has resulted in a wealth of information, with much of it exists on the internet. With so much information overwhelming us, it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s fake. To decipher the truth in this era, the consumer should question the validity of everything they read.
Questioning the information you read should be the first thing you do to understand whether or not it’s truthful. There is an important distinction to make, however. Questioning the validity of the material you consume doesn’t mean that nothing is factual. It means that there may be falsehoods in some of the information consumed.
This issue of fake news is due to multiple reasons. One reason is that our news cycle is always trying to put out stories quickly and they can’t get everything right. Additionally, these news sources may have alternative biases or political motives. The greater issue of fake news on social media has exploded in recent times because anger-inducing media is guaranteed to drive more traffic and clicks to websites. Media creators know this and create “clickbait” to try to do exactly that. As such, they will create fake news-adjacent headlines to drive traffic to their websites.
There are different ways to determine if there is some information that’s untrue in the content you’re consuming. First, use your common sense. If you read an article that makes a statement you find hard to believe, do some research of your own. Start by googling the absurdity and seeing if other websites confirm it. Snopes.com is a great resource for busting fake news.
The second step would be to look deeper into your source. Is it a legitimate organization? Do they have political motives? Is the article hosted on a website that floods your screen with advertisements? If so, this source may not be fighting for the truth, rather, it’s fighting for your click.
The most important step is connected to the first; doing your own research. This is different from confirming that a piece of information is untrue – it’s about finding out what is true. If a news site posts a statement about “subject A” that you are suspicious of, you should look into legitimate resources such as scholarly articles, well-proven news sources, and written material about “subject A” so that you know what is factual regarding the topic.
Critical thinking is an important part of negotiating the world in its current state. The fact that most people you know have access to a computer and can research any given topic at any time can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Be sure to consider any information you’re given carefully before accepting that it is indeed factual, because not everything you’re told is the truth, and in an era where fake news is rampant, it’s easy to get caught up in absurdities.