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Mixed Message and Missed Messages: How to Find Truth in an Era of Fake News

About me: I am a freelance writer and fashion enthusiast. I have authored articles in the local media in Northeast Ohio. Prior to my work as a writer, I studied Psychology at Roosevelt University. I am the founder and CEO of Paperback PR. We are a small public relations firm located in Northeast Ohio.

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By April Jones

The global culture is growing immensely, which is great.  The most important tools that most humans lack is respectful social relationships such as tolerance, compromise and understanding.  What good is the connection when one does not know how to interact appropriately?     

It is all too common to witness people waging war in the comment section, as heated debates can turn into personal attacks; internet trolls don’t help the situation, either. T.V. news and national newspapers become obsolete when social networking sites become centers of information about current events. Social media has become a viable treasure trove of political and social events.  There is immense difficulty in trying to convey a constructive response or have a mature and healthy conversation, especially when most people do not fact check.

There are many social platforms that are used that give many the opportunity to express their opinion anonymously on the most sensitive and controversial topics; nonetheless, it has become an invaluable resource for people who have issues communicating personally.  The main issue of a conversation is forgotten and assumptions are made because most people take issues personally and due to not understanding the context.  Individuals have the propensity to defend their viewpoints like soldiers defending a fort, even if it is wrong or lacks basis in logic.

 When a person is not aware or not open to accepting another’s opinion, the counter reaction can be negative. Many people would argue that having a heated discussion articulates a point better, as opposed to a calmer exchange that requires listening and respect.  A person who is well-informed of facts is far more advanced in their ability to discuss a matter positively. Everyone wants to be heard, but no one wants to listen.  The most helpful remedy is to simply have an open mind and be understanding of conflicting opinions.  We can all agree to disagree.  “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Aristotle

 As long as there is an issue to discuss, individuals will have a strong opinion of said issue.  While others will conduct research to support their argument, others will seek social networking websites as a “newsworthy source.” These “newsworthy sources” are littered with inaccuracies and falsehoods, but they do their job effectively. Despite the “fake news” sources, they cater to the inherent narcissism in many of us; it is often difficult to tell someone that their viewpoint isn’t “logical.” In most cases, the information regurgitated on social networking websites aligns with an individual’s views; sadly, fact checking becomes nonexistent after that.

Most people feel that arguing every point is more important than simply allowing someone else to have a personal stance.  There is a level of certainty and confidence from a person who extracts alleged “data” from social networking websites.  When an individual spends more time arguing rather than researching the topic, they tend to oppose any and all reasoning. For example, politics and social issues are both controversial topics; in fact, politics itself has become a social issue. Most people are not open to other beliefs when it comes to politics and social issues, regardless of political leaning.  Despite any evidence that leads to a conclusion being incorrect, individuals will still argue that their belief is the way things are supposed to be. They will forgo any connection to reality in order to solidify their point; this is why most issues are not resolved. 

Healthy discussions are not completely non-existent in today’s society, but, the advent of social media does not slow its decline. In modern society, we tend to normalize dysfunction by making excuses.  No one really learns how to agree or disagree, because everyone wants to be right.   Everyone has their own ideology of how things are supposed to be.  Some people will search for the truth, and some will keep their beliefs without ever knowing what the truth is.  Most people just enjoy arguing, and that is probably how things will always be. Nonetheless, the only way to have a healthy debate is to also understand the other side.

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