We’re all in a hurry – a hurry to get to work; a hurry to get home; a hurry to meet the deadline; a hurry to get to bed, so we can wake up early to hurry through another day. This accelerated pace of life has not only affected our actions, but the way we learn and communicate too. We want brief meetings and short emails. We want our information fast and condensed, often in 140 characters or less. If it’s not possible to pare the information down to a tweet, the resulting article better contain short paragraphs, bulleted lists and key points in bold, because we’re in a hurry.
But what are we missing between the bulleted lists and abridged conversations? Recently there has been a public outcry against ‘fake news’ invading the Internet and social media channels. People are blaming news outlets, ‘biased’ reporters, social media channels, and political leaders. And while these entities have certainly played their part in the spread of fake news, many of them are taking steps to mend mistakes, as exhibited by this article from The Wall Street Journal: Facebook and Google Step Up Efforts to Combat Fake News. But what part has the average citizen played in the spread of fake news, and what are they doing to correct it? Many people read hyped-up headlines and tweets and take them at face value. They skim the bold sections of news articles, never bothering to read the details or think critically about the information presented. They’re quick to form an opinion, respond to a tweet, or share the information, without doing their due diligence as a responsible citizen who is spreading news and information.
A perfect example is the Wall Street Journal article referenced above. The headline seems straightforward and the source is legitimate, so someone may read this blog and share that information with their own networks; but does the headline actually give the facts? Was there a pause to think critically about the issue? The article is actually about measures being taken in France by Facebook and Google-financed nonprofit First Draft News. They’re working with about 15 news organizations to flag fake news and prevent it from appearing in searches or Facebook newsfeeds. Someone who is thinking critically and being responsible about their news intake might ask – which news organizations are they? How do they deem a story ‘fake’? Is it up to tech companies to filter or decide the information people receive? Who’s watching the tech companies? The net being: it’s probably best to read the article, instead of just relying on the headline.
Our hurried pace of living has created a culture where we’re quick to skim through information and in a hurry to form and share an opinion. Perhaps it’s time to slow down and take a personal responsibility for the information we read and share.