Every few days or so, information with the scope of creating a dialogue between netizens surfaces through the clutter. These conversations can have far-reaching consequences for it is easy to get swayed by emotions and confuse facts with opinions. Even the most trained people can fall for such traps. But it’s not all that bad. Here’s something I do that you could too!
Check profile description
Does the handle that tweeted the information have a profile picture? Is there a proper description in the bio? Are you mistaking a symbol in the name as the blue tick that indicates a verified profile? Is there a red flag in the bio description? An extremist stand? Always check the credibility of the person whose content you are consuming.
Vet your local journalists
Journalists are perhaps the first among those who have access to direct official information and tend to put it across through their Twitter handles. However, they are only humans. Vet through the profiles and analyse if they are giving out information within a context or putting across a personal commentary with it. While it is completely well within their rights to express emotions, you do need to be mindful of separating facts from emotions.
Be wary of political content
No matter what their personal ideology is and/or what political group they are affiliated to, politicians are bound to colour a tragedy to support their agenda. It’s a part of the gamble and seems to fit in the ethics of politics at large. However, you need to be careful when accepting such a narrative. Is it the usual mud slinging or is it grounded in facts? Be mindful of it.
Create an analysis checklist
Do not believe anything you read. Question everything! Remember that no outlet, even the ones putting across ‘news’ is sacred, especially on social media. Every written word is a part of an imagination that is being shared in the hope of making it a collective one. Do you really want to be a part of it? Would it be fine for your mental health? Is this something you signed up for? Have your own rubric to access the information you consume and ensure that it doesn’t sway you to an extreme point of view.
Build yourself a community
Propaganda is the soul of mass media. While reports of incidents are expected to be free from bias, there is nothing to measure or control emotions that run free. Build yourself a community you can rely on for information. Educate the ones around you and learn from those who think are worthy. Don’t fall for the traps set across the medium.
There is a lot that goes into the tweet you scroll through — stop and share only if you are convinced it’s information and not a part of a hateful agenda. Only you can save yourself. Safeguard yourself well.