The advent of the internet has led to the rise of a million stars who have not been vetted by the traditional media powers. Anyone with a computer or a video camera can upload content to their heart’s desire (yours truly being one of them). The talented or persistent stick around while the others dabble for a minute and disappear again into obscurity.
With so many opinions floating around, the truth has become harder to find amongst the background noice. The rules for finding truth are the same whether the media outlet comes from big money, a bargain basement budget, or no budget at all. Money doesn’t make the news correct. Truth makes the story. How do you tell the difference between a good story and a bad story?
Before the proliferation of the internet only the most outlandish stories required scrutiny. Now even the stories that sound legitimate need checking. For-profit news centers and citizen journalists necessitate increased fact checking. Staying informed means more work. Here are three steps to make sure your receiving and disseminating facts.
Read or watch news from multiple sources. Chances are, if you’re watching or reading only one news source, you’re not getting the whole story. Flat out lies may not be evident unless you look at a story from multiple views. Biased sources repeat views across shows and articles. Even if what they are saying is 90% true, you’re still missing 10% of the story.
News agencies create profits by accentuating the negative. Kurt Vonnegut said in reference to writing fiction, “Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them”. Humans are drawn to tragedy. The media knows this and is reliant on viewers being sucked in by the constant parade of unpleasant things happening to others. Don’t get caught in the trap. The world is a better place than you are led to believe. Yes, bad things happen, but be honest with yourself, is that what’s really happening in your life?
Call out blatant lies and site sources. This is a bit tricky because emotions usually are running high. Keep your calm and avoid name calling. If they’re online just to cause trouble you’re not going to sway them, forget about the person trolling the conversation in real time. Respond for the person who will read the comments in a week or a month. Double check your facts, remain cool and logical, and site sources. Don’t get dragged into the gutter. The ill-informed want you to join them in a base argument where they’ll wear you down and beat you with experience not facts.
The internet is what you make of it. Make it a source of increased knowledge and truth.
Stay tuned and stay involved.