The world we live in today is becoming increasingly digitized. It’s arguable that some of the most important, motivating events to happen during a day occur through your cell phone. You might read a post that could make or break your day, and that’s the honest truth. Sure, you might be some staunch advocate of “technology doesn’t rule me, I still use this old flip-phone,” but most people would beg to differ.
One thing that’s become increasingly blurred and screwy is the way people receive their news. Ever since Facebook declared it wanted to aggregate news, it seems like the general populace has given up on trying to determine if their news or the outlets they receive it from are reputable.
There’s no better proof of this than the person on your Facebook newsfeed who shares an Onion article thinking that it’s actually a legitimate, serious, non-satirical news outlet. Or maybe there’s your racist uncle who only likes and shares posts from Fox News, or your friend who just found out what Reddit is, and is suddenly a socialist, quoting Marx and sharing everything from Bernie Sanders’ official Facebook.
Specific Facebook pages, or other online content aggregators, are profiting from people who share their biased posts and claims simply based on the fact that it supports their own political ideologies, be they left or right.
Let’s face it, when it comes to actually caring about where your news comes from, the country has gone to the dogs. People only share news and opinions that are relevant to their interests, or reinforce their own ideas. How can a person’s intellect grow if they aren’t exploring, considering, or at the very least acknowledging, that there are other ways of thinking?
Automatically assuming that threats made on the internet are real can also bring with it new dangers. There have been various instances in institutions around the country of students creating fake Twitter accounts and Facebook posts to try to incriminate the other ethnicity for hate crimes that didn’t even
happen. One example is the New Jersey student who created a fake hate group Twitter for her campus. Of course, this pales in comparison to the overall problems of institutional racism that much of America still grapples with, but it’s important to bring attention to how this problem is being exploited maliciously.
Of course, there’s also the fact that people can post on forums like 4chan that they are about to go on a shooting rampage and no one will believe them until the next day, when they actually carry out their plot. It’s unrealistic to think the NSA and all of their spying are able to detect things like this, but it’s also unrealistic to expect every single 13-year-old’s on the internet’s threats to be taken seriously.
At the end of the day, it’s really not that hard to tell which news sources are simply propaganda machines, and which at least make some sort of effort to remain unbiased and factual. Every news source is biased a little bit, because there’s someone supporting all their endeavors.
Still, would it kill students to take a moment to formulate their own opinion? Probably not.