These past few months, an old revelation has come back to my mind. That being there's an overwhelming and concerning amount of misinformation amongst the public. Every time I log onto social media, I have to keep a wary eye on everything to avoid gathering any false information my friends, family, or favorite influencers are talking about. Obviously a lot of people hear the words "fake news" and immediately bust out laughing because of the way that term is misused by others to attack any news that goes against their ideology, but I digress.

In this article, I'll explain the dangers of being gullible online and how to protect yourself. Enjoy!!

The internet is a double-edged sword in some ways

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Before the internet, news got around by word of mouth, going to the library, news programs on TV, and newspapers. So there were many sources where you could be informed, but because of the exclusive nature of these sources and the fact they took so much longer to break news, the internet eventually overpowered all of them combined. The internet gave us so many sources with quicker access, yet many of us are still unable to fully understand how to use them to crosscheck information.

I've been in these situations where I side with the public's point of view on a certain situation without actually researching what I am agreeing with. Only to realize that I was peer pressured into believing something false. This thankfully has made me more aware of reviewing information that I am presented with other sources available to me.

Propaganda; don't fall for it

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Before I jump into the ways in which I verify and discover new information, I think it's important that we go over propaganda.

Growing up, I was taught in school that propaganda is always bad and evil so we should avoid it (unless it is used to promote U.S. policies, but again I digress). Although, now I've realized that propaganda isn't inherently evil rather the ideology behind it is in some instances. The truth is that we are surrounded by propaganda to the point it is difficult to identify because of how normalized it has become. So how do I know what it is and what the heck is good propaganda?

The best way that I can define modern-day propaganda is by saying it promotes an ideology that is part of something bigger e.g. a news station using negative coverage over an event to paint BLM in a bad light while aiming to subconsciously manipulate their audience to see BLM as a threat and an active police state as something necessary to "fight evil." Obviously they won't tell you that it's propaganda and instead call it "the truth," but don't fall for it.

If one news station that is benefitting from fear and division is giving you scary divisive rhetoric while 3 other unbiased sources with no agenda are saying the opposite, then who do you believe? It's important to push aside the way you view the world in order see the truth sometimes and that's okay. Don't be someone who doesn't allow themselves to make mistakes and doesn't change their point of view when facts are being presented.

Popular forms propaganda:

  • Memes
  • TV shows & Movies
  • The news
  • Social media posts (Tiktok has so much misinformation and so many people in the comment sections keep falling for it. Please be careful of what you hear on apps like these, they are now being actively used to promote hatred the same way propaganda does to younger generations).
  • Commentary Youtube videos (although others are good for gathering good info).
  • Conspiracy theories (A lot of them are made up nonsense used to promote ideologies, so are therefore propaganda. However, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't be wary of things that may be going on behind the scenes. It just means that you should still research things before falling into propaganda).

I am in no way saying these are all 100% propaganda. You should just be more cautious when gathering information from places like these. It's always okay to be skeptical and don't let people gaslight you into believing something false.

As for "good" propaganda, it can be propaganda used to change the way people think for the greater. For instance, helping someone adopt a more unifying and helpful viewpoint in life.

Getting legit information

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READ!!! I cannot stress this enough, but you need to read the full articles and books over subjects you're interested in. Don't just accept whatever someone tells you or posts online as the truth. They may not be doing this on purpose, but they could also be misinterpreting information thereby spreading untrue messages. It's important that you stay knowledgeable and take advantage of the resources given to you.

In order to simplify this, I'll walk you through my process which you can use as a starting point:

1. I start by going onto Twitter or any social media where people discuss current events.

2. Then, I look at anything a lot of people are talking about or what interests me.

3. I read through what people are saying about it to understand the different opinions.

4. Next, I go on google to find any articles or research studies to verify the information. I also use Snopes sometimes to quickly fact check something if I don't really care about it that much haha.

5. I use the different articles I've read to finally form an opinion over the matter. Sometimes I'll save any useful info over topics I care about in a google folder to look back on, but that's more because I save it for future articles and other writing-related things.

6. Finally, I also turn to Youtube and watch some commentary videos, podcasts, or documentaries over the topics (keep in mind I don't take this all as just the final word).

Some channels I trust:

❁ Commentary: D'Angelo Wallace, Creepshow Art, Primink, Jordan Theresa, and J Aubrey amongst others.

❁ Documentaries/Instructional/News: Vox, TEDx Talks, VICE News, AsapSCIENCE, and later on I will write an article over documentaries that completely changed my mind.

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Thank you for reading!! I hope this article wasn't too long and that you take away something important such as not falling for misinformation. It can also hurt people in the long run such as with cancel culture.

xx

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