Friday, May 26, 2017

Read All About It

At some point during the last election there was a new buzzword born: fake news! There is really nothing new about this word or the concept behind it, really! It has been around for centuries. I just read an article by Jeff Csatari that stated it went on in ancient Greece. Humans are known for stirring up the pot, so to speak.

First of all, we all are by nature wanting to believe in others. It is easier to believe than to be a skeptic and try to source all of the news that comes to us at the speed of light these days. It takes a lot more of our time to try to get down to the facts. Sometimes it is not just the fact that we fall for the fake story and then feel foolishly gullible, but that it is so many more ways to get the news and read all about it with social media.

We have high ranking government officials tweeting outrageous tweets. There are scientists who seemingly have the highest credentials scaring the general public with claims of foods that we should avoid in order to not risk developing dementia or other health related problems. Yet, the next thing I will read shares how that just the opposite is true. Who do I believe? Who is telling the truth? Or do both stories have partial truth and partial exaggeration based within their reports?

I have researched enough to know that the first thing to do is to know about who is reporting the news and why. Some are making big bucks by reporting fake news. How, you may ask? If readers click their buttons on line to read what they wrote, banner ads will come up on the sidelines. Therefore, for every click, the so called reporter is paid handsomely for each time the button is clicked. Be wary. 

Several examples of fake news come to my mind, as I am sure they do yours also. One day I read that eggs are so very unhealthy for us and we should only be eating the whites of eggs. Turn to another source and just the opposite is true. Since I am not a medical professional, I have found a doctor who I know that I can trust. Plus his advice has been proven over the years which is, "All in moderation!" Simple, at least for our dietary needs. Speaking of doctors, I have seen ads on the social media, as you have, with the famous Dr. Oz endorsing certain products. These ads just pop up. I have heard him say personally that he does not believe in these products and that we should not be purchasing these products unless we saw and heard him reporting on them as healthy. Companies just put his picture on their page to make us believe it is true. 

One day I happened to be watching Oprah. She came right out and said it on national TV that she was not bragging but she has been ranked as one of the wealthiest women in the business. If there were a pill that you could buy that would make you lose weight, did we as the general public not think that she would be buying it and taking it? There is no such pill. Losing weight is all about what you put into your body and then how much you move your body. For some, especially as we grow a bit older, the harder it is to lose it; not impossible, we just have to be more determined and have the mindset in what we are doing.

I have found that there are some ways to help guide us to what is fake and what is not, or at the very least stop some of it from continuing to spread. First of all, I check to see who is doing the reporting and take it with a grain of salt until I have time to see if truly legitimate sources are quoted, as well as if they are established and grounded. Is it new information or years old news? Secondly, will someone make money on this? That is a red flag for me to check into the story deeper. Many times, with Face Book, the news could be spread by someone we know. Before I click "share" I must be sure before spreading any fake news.

In these times we must all be so careful to not be a part of the fake news. Truly, the hardest for me to decipher through is the political news. There is a reason for this. If I come across a piece of news that clearly refutes an article that I read and I believed, then I may find it challenging to turn my thoughts around because what I read first is more deeply embedded in my thought processes. The best way to check out news is to get right to the primary source. Secondary sources are not always reliable. I remember being taught this in school. It should be an ongoing subject matter for discussions in today's world.

Please join me in stopping the vicious cycle of spreading fake news simply because "everyone's saying it, so it must be true, right?" Some of my best friends have put things up on the social media that I know for a fact is not the 'whole  story' and I simply refuse to join in the hoax. My husband often reminds me that I use the expression, "I have told you a million times..."  Exaggeration and fake news can go hand in hand. Be aware.
Resources: The Good Life Report; "Don't Let Fake News Hijack Your Brain" by Jeff Csatari.
                Quote: Josh Billings, a 19th century American humorist writer and lecturer; pen       name for Henry Wheeler Shaw.

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