More than ever in 2017, we’re inundated with stories of alternative facts, fake news, and how to decipher what you’re reading as truth, an exaggeration, or at its worst, an outright lie. The Type-A in me is triumphant, after years of yelling at my computer screen when Facebook friends share a false post without questioning it first (can you tell its a major pet peeve?) Unfortunately, while some of the obvious fake news makes me crazy, it’s getting more and more difficult to determine which is what.
In her latest blog post titled Separating Facts From Fairy Tales, Betty-Ann Heggie stated something that made me raise an eyebrow, and then let out a sigh as I realized that she was speaking something entirely true.
We live each day according to our stories about who we are, what we do, the people we support and where we spend our money. It is natural that we see and believe information that supports our beliefs and ignore that which does not.
– Betty- Ann Heggie
Think about that. We all have the story of us. Past experiences, the way we were raised, the way we choose to raise our children, all the things that make us who we are – that define us. We naturally then, find stories and situations that speak to us and support those stories and share those facts. But what happens when we hear an alternative fact (and not the POTUS kind either), a fact that presents something outside what we believe to be true, or right, or correct.
Do we investigate it? Determine if it’s really true, making our previous belief perhaps untrue? Or do we simply ignore? What a shame to ignore learning something new, an alternative idea or philosophy, because we are so satisfied that our own beliefs are the right ones. As Betty-Ann points out, “There will always be a news source that helps us find alternative facts that align with our beliefs.”
I encourage you, and remind myself, to remember this the next time you’re scrolling through social media and a friend posts their truth, what they believe to be a fact. If it’s something your beliefs naturally align with, perhaps dig deeper and ensure that what you’re reading is truth rather than blindly clicking ‘share’ to further spread the message. If it’s something you definitely don’t agree with, again – read further. See why the friend is sharing the information, and decide for yourself if it’s fact or fiction.
At that point you need to determine with your new found knowledge. Have you learned something new that you can appreciate even if you don’t agree with it? Or have you read something so blatantly false that correcting your friend can’t happen fast enough. Careful with the second idea. I have learned that at best, we can educate ourselves and work to better those we have influence on like our children and our immediate social circle. The best thing you can do for the rest, is simply not share in the false facts, and hope they come around. You never know, maybe someone hopes the same for you on a different topic!
We’re encouraging you to step up and be aware the next time you see a fact that makes you scratch your head. Has it happened recently? Tell us about it and you’ll be entered to win $100 PayPal to celebrate your savvy sleuthing.