Last week I saw a clip on Facebook from The Daily Show With Trevor Noah. It was addressing the fact that the media jumps all over every statement Donald Trump makes even those that are blatantly untrue. Unfortunately, I couldn’t copy the link but perhaps you have seen it or can search for it.
At one point he stated that it didn’t matter what Donald Trump tweeted. He could tweet that goblins are faster than unicorns and people would still jump all over it and public debate would break out.
I have watched this clip over and over. Partly because it makes me laugh out loud every time I watch it but also because he makes such great points. I don’t want to debate politics that’s not what this blog is about. I want to discuss his points and how they apply to social media in general. These points also extend very well into the real world.
This quote from Trevor Noah especially rang true to me:
“Donald Trump has created his own universe and from within that universe he takes a made up idea throws it at us in the real world and whether we can prove him wrong or not, it doesn’t matter. We’ve lost because now we are in his universe.”
This is true about social media. So many people throw out a statement, others grasp onto the statement, whether it is true or not, and then viciously debate it. Not only that but they forward the false statements. The incorrect or inaccurate statement gets forwarded so many times that it seems to be true or it becomes our reality. And as Noah suggests, it doesn’t even matter what that statement is. Someone will take it to be true or someone will claim it is true because it can’t necessarily be proven otherwise. It can be crazy-making but it can also be dangerous.
Trevor Noah addressed these points and they apply to our consideration of social media:
The facts aren’t the same anymore.
The rules have changed.
We need to adapt.
Don’t amplify the voice (of those spreading false claims).
Ask for elaboration.
Logic is the downfall (of false statements).
Information is being thrown at us at an unprecedented rate. We need to be smart and realize that what looks like a fact isn’t always a fact. We need to have the skills and abilities to wade through the information to find the actual truth and we need to teach our children this valuable ability as well. It is true that the rules have changed. Anyone can post just about anything. This in itself can be very positive as many people now have a voice. That voice can be used for good, for healthy debate and starting a conversation. We can engage in speaking out about important issues like politics, gender issues, bullying, and racism. However, as we all know, this also means the opposite is true.
Do not give power to those who are spreading lies and untruths. Before jumping on a statement or comment, ask the person to elaborate to make sure you understand properly or to give them a chance to trip over their own “logic”, Or take a step back and give yourself a moment to contemplate the statement and apply your own logic.
Logic is the downfall of untrue statements. It is more important than ever to apply this logic in our day-to-day activities on social media.