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Facebook, False Information, and Facts

Justin Kiska

(3/2017) I hate Facebook. There, I said it. Let me say it again just so I can make myself crystal clear and no one misunderstands. I hate Facebook. For years I have said Ė only half joking Ė that it will be the downfall of our society. After what I have seen over just the last year, I am convinced Iím right.

When Facebook first became a "thing," it was a great way to stay connected with friends and family who you didnít see on a regular basis. Old friends who lost touch could reconnect, while grandparents could see what was going on with their grandchildren living on the other side of the country. It started out alright, as a means of bringing people together.

Now, Facebook is doing more to tear people apart than bring them together. Facebook has become one of the most popular places to argue with friends and family about . . . well, pretty much anything and everything. Since it is all being done without any actually personal interaction, people arenít afraid to say some of the nastiest things.

Typing anger and vitriol seems to be perfectly acceptable. But would some of those people say the same thing if they were face-to-face with one another? I can only hope not.

What concerns me even more though, is that Facebook is becoming a source where people get their "news." Please note, here Iím using the term "news" extremely loosely. People will see headlines on Facebook and then read the comments posted based on those headlines. More often than not, those headlines can be misleading and the comments that follow become the story.

I canít tell you how many times someone comes to me frantic about a headline they just saw on Facebook and then proceed to tell me everything people are saying it means. When I ask if theyíve read the article or actually looked at whatever documents or government action was being talked about, the answer is invariably, "no."

Headlines donít always tell the story. A personís post is not always accurate. We cannot just take what we see online as fact. Especially now when so many people and groups are actively trying to distort the facts to fit their side of an argument. Iím not saying this hasnít ever happened before. Just never to the degree with which it is now.

Look at what happened during last yearís election. The misinformation that was spread about the various candidates and their positions . . . It was sickening.

Now letís talk about personal responsibility. We, as individuals, need to take the time to do our own research and not just trust what someone tells us. Sometimes itís hard to find the truth. Talking heads on one television channel say one thing, while those on another channel say the exact opposite. No one actually wants to sit down and read one of the presidentís executive orders, but thatís the only way to know what it actual does.

If we continue to just sit back and allow others to tell us what is fact and fiction, things will only get worse. The already deep divisions we are faced with will never be able to feel. We need to educate ourselves. We need to take responsibility for knowing fact from fiction. And we need to turn off Facebook every once in a while.

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