By Derek Etter
Social Media & Marketing Editor
It’s easy to try to be a better person, but how can we, as members of society, REALLY better ourselves and listen to both sides? In many ways, it’s easier than most think.
With the advent of technology, we, as a society, have the opportunity to share more information than ever before. Newspapers are being replaced with news sites, the radio is being replaced by TV, and social media has provided a copious amount of platforms to which we take in our news.
However, not all of these social media sources are credible. And since the world wide web is a vast network of differing opinions and news outlets, taking it ALL in or reading one thing does NOT make you informed.
Being an informed citizen means keeping up to date in the 24-hour news cycle, and being cognizant of what is going on in the world around you. In order to do this, we must rely on credible news sources that inform us, and if we utilize these new technologies at our fingertips, it is incredibly easy to do so.
But first, it’s important to know what NOT to do. Along with these technologies has come familiar and incendiary terms you may see often in the news, like “fake news,” “bias,” and “alternative facts.” It is because of these things that news sources gain bad reputations. It takes not only a valid news source, but an intelligent and informed reader who knows how to utilize the information they have.
However, some news sources may not be so valid. Some places that we as a people get our information from aren’t even news sources at all. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are often used to share news, but often along with this news comes the opinion of the person who is sharing it.
Sometimes readers don’t make it past the title of an article. For example, an ABC news article about a North Carolina man was posted on August 17, 2017, and was headlined “Dad accused of leaving 5 children alone to work.” The man in the article, Victor Alonzo King, was attacked by many online users who perceived him as a father who was not taking care of his children properly. However, upon further investigation into the article, an informed reader who clicks past a title will see that the article is much more than the title. King, the father accused, left his children home alone with a babysitter who left them alone while he was working to provide for his wife, who has stage four cancer.
This is extremely important, as often when we see someone else’s opinion without seeing the entire story, we lose empathy for whomever the news is about. Many people take to media to share their disdain or rash emotions. However, reading someone’s opinion of a new article’s title is not being informed. You as a reader MUST read the article yourself and form your OWN opinion. I cannot stressenough the importance of being an individual who educates themselves. Why spread an opinion when what you know isn’t even right?
This also exists in more popular news at more than just a local level. An article by the Washington Post on the tragic events in Charlottesville is titled “30 percent of Republicans say white supremacists don’t carry the most blame for Charlottesville.” News on the opinions of citizens is already a touchy subject, so you must have a keen eye to make sure what you’re reading isn’t telling you what to think. This title gives only one-third of the information actually included in the article. Most people would see this title and think that it is another example of the hatred displayed in but not on behalf of Virginia, but within the article you will find that almost 40% of the demographic they polled did in fact condemn and blame white supremacists for the repercussions of their public hate.
Getting past the titles and the media, as an informed citizen you must read and take in the news that is being shared. The benefits of this are so worth the simple click into an article and the five minutes it takes to read them.
With the proper information, you can not only help spread the right information, but also partake in intellectual discussions that aren’t just online brawls over who is right or wrong.
Like the previous article, having empathy for one another is incredibly easy.
Paired with educating yourself, being informed, and knowing truly just what you believe or at least what others talk about, it’s incredibly easy to be a well-informed citizen, something that we all need to be in this day and age.
All the latest right here!