Social Media Frenzy

Social media has become a conduit for inaccurate news and with our appetite growing for bizarre and out of this world stories, it becomes increasingly difficult to navigate between truth and fiction. I have noticed that anything that has the freshest hint of being outrageous, is met with the click of the share button. I am guilty of that action, especially when outrageous behaviors and utterances are made by those who hold and wield power.

I have had to stop myself, literally, reposting, re-tweeting otherwise, re-telling stories that have not been grounded in fact. I need to perform the litmus test as there are many unfortunate events that go through a serious of bends and reshaping. Stories that have the potential to create conflict and tension gain much traction, because we as humans have grown beyond being responsible adults.

I decided to record my thoughts after I saw a FaceBook post by a friend about the passing of Nelson Mandela. From all media reports, I know he was ill and without validating the story, I began to comment about the passing of an icon. In mid-sentence, I stopped. Caught in the moment, I was about to express my condolences, without checking for validity. Ooops!!!

Backtracking, I sought from the author of the post, his sources. I further scoured reputable News Networks, such as the BBC. It would seem rather unlikely that for a man with such historical presence, the networks would be silent. Nothing came up on the radar.

Approximately two days later, my friend, obviously ashamed that he had participated in the sharing of inaccurate information, made amends by apologizing for his role in spreading erroneous information.

Social media and its limitless expansion to geographic locations we can only dream of visiting, certainly has its advantages. We travel vicariously through the experiences of others and as knowledge is shared, we begin to measure cultural practices against cultural practices. But as we gain knowledge, we must be prepared to discern and reject fallacies about people and what others claim are facts.

Of course, we should publicly decry events like genocide, racism, and corruption. By bringing these atrocities to the public domain, the world can, with one voice,  ensure that the behaviors that pose a threat to civil liberties, do not achieve the traction that will hurl us back to a time that has no place in our modern era.

Copyright 2013 Suzette Henry Campbell

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30 Comments

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  3. Jonathan O'Donnell

    I’m a big fan of Snopes, a site which debunks urban legends.
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    When I see something that doesn’t seem quite right, I check it on Snopes. If it has been discussed, then I have an authoritative page that I can point people to.

    It isn’t useful for things that popped up yesterday, but it does work well for the more persistent urban myths out there.

    So, for example, when I look for information about Nelson Mandela, I find that CNN mistakenly published an obituary for him in 2003.
    http://www.snopes.com/humor/mediagoofs/cnnobits.asp

    Jonathan

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