In a recent Globe and Mail article, the authors (Gruzd and Mai, 2017) quote Barrack Obama as saying, ““Increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there” (p.1.).
I believe that is true. Instead of researching information, we believe what we read. If it is on the Internet, or better yet, Facebook, it comes a fact rather than a misreported or misquoted piece of information. Don’t get me wrong – I am not naïve enough to think that misreporting didn’t happen before the invention of social media – it just has a larger audience now and spreads quicker that feathers in a windstorm. The other thing that concerns be about social media posts is that most of them are anonymous. You can disagree with somebody without being disrespectfully and petty. That concerns me but anonymity in social media a topic for another blog post.
The article goes on to say that social media is a “disruptive medium that has shaken up social space” (p. 7). Is this a positive or a negative thing? Sometimes shake-ups are good – they invigorate; they encourage debate; they push social boundaries. However, if these things are to occur, accurate information must be presented and those debates must happen based on fact – not fiction. When information is presented, I think we have to consider the information and the source of that information. Is Facebook a truly reliable source?
When social media is used for good, it is a powerful and relevant tool. In my world, I have seen it do some incredible work with shutting down puppy mills. Unfortunately, when social media is used for evil, it is a powerful and relevant tool. The exception is that it becomes relevant because the audience wants it to be relevant. For example, look at all the information that is out there about Trump. Is it true or not true? Obama had the same issues. Information is out there about both men that is not true. I have seen people get into some pretty horrible arguments over Facebook statements.
What do you think? Is social media a disruptive force? How do we encourage social media users to disseminate information is a way that is positive rather than on-line medium for passing along false information and gossip? How do we instill the skills in social media to have people critical evaluate information without believing it hook, line, and sinker?
I welcome your thoughts on this. The source of the article is provided below.