Being misinformed is common; no one has all the right answers to divulge at any time. Not having the right information is not necessarily a bad thing, as it is a way to learn, but it's what you do with it that matters. So how does one misinformed idea create a wave of people now aligned to that way of thinking? A simple retweet, share, or repost. Whether it's spurred by good intentions or simply a reflex, hundreds of uninformed "facts" end up on our timelines. In a world where we expect to have all the answers at lightning speed without fail, have we abandoned the need for sharing correct information?
"Fake news", for lack of a better word, is constantly circulating the Internet, permeating our media at every turn. Fact-checking, it seems, is few and far in between. This is especially true for any social media site, but Twitter appears to be the main source of misinformation. The platform makes it easy for the wrong information to become a universal truth. Being that its audience is majority teenagers to young adults, the inherent desire to go viral or be seen as some sort of pseudo-intellectual god is what drives the platform. So we watch as tweets about the government, health, love, etc. rack up the retweets and the favorites, but how many of us stop to wonder if the content we're engaging and boosting is even true?
Under an administration that thrives on fake news and misinformation, it almost feels like an obligation to question and double-check the information we receive. Group-think can be dangerous; in some cases, it can erase the need for individual responsibility to the truth and loudly promote wrong "facts" for the sake of being perceived as right. It may seem incredulous to be dubious of some viral tweet about conditions in the Middle East but social media has a huge impact on the information we receive and internalize. It influences our conversations, thoughts, opinions. It is especially important to be wary of the use of photos without context. All too often, someone takes photos (usually of minorities) from another source, crafts a ridiculously untrue story to go with it and tweets it as factual. Not everyone has all the right answers, nor should we expect each other to, but in this day and age when the Internet is a huge - and some people's only - source of news, it is necessary to be aware of what is being shared.
And where there is misinformation, there is correction. Some people truly are just misinformed and not just spreading false information for the heck of it. Most people are willing to learn, to ask questions. But then there are the people who have some sort of superiority complex when it comes to intelligence, a "Do you not know ..." attitude that deters people from asking questions. Granted, it is understandable for those who are constantly demanded to perform emotional labor for people who are clearly not interested in answers. However, in moments where it is obvious that we are trying to learn from each other rather than blindly follow the group, education feels like a gift.