Consuming information online

Every few days, a new wave of information hits us. Mostly negative. It comes with a flurry of emotions. Mostly negative. We feel numb and unable to respond for a few seconds. For the most part, there is always someone out there speaking about the issue. We read, find something that matches most with what we wish to say, and share.

It is so much easier than to attempt reading in-depth and find a way to express what we truly feel. It is convenient. And, dangerous.

With so many people out there, speaking, and so much content to consume, how do you measure the authenticity of information? How do you know what you are consuming is actually something that is factual and not merely based on emotions — and likely created for views/clicks?

By looking at it carefully and analysing it against parameters of your own choosing. Here’s a glimpse into how I look at and analyse information.

Understanding information

Information usually answers six important questions: What, Why, Who, Where, When and How. It is set within a context and doesn’t force emotions. It may trigger emotions based on a lot of external factors but the language in which it is is written must not forcefully trigger emotions.

Context form a major chunk of information. It helps the reader/viewer understand why the topic is important and why it is being talked about at all. It can be done using citations, data and reports. Credibility is key to context. Emotions are not credible, no matter who they belong to.

Looking for loopholes

It is important to understand where that information is coming from. Who is speaking the words you are listening to? Do they have credibility in the subject they are talking about? It is important to take the information and look at it from all angles and look for loopholes in the narrative.

Always look at a piece of information like an editor/sub-editor. You trust it but it is important to verify it. There needs to a slight level of suspicion. It helps you better at consuming any information, especially online.

When you are feeling a lot of emotions because of an event, try to pen down your thoughts. It will help you rationalise and understand why you are truly feeling what you are feeling about the issue. It is likely that you will find triggers in your past than in that very moment. It helps me, may help you too.

Related: How to better consume information on Twitter?

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