OMG, Think Before You Click!

For the love of all that is great and glorious in the world, consider the source! In any given day the average person is inundated with information, so much so that I believe we’ve become lazy in our information consumption. Whether you are re-sharing a post about the end of the world or the numerous “Facebook is not going to be free” posts, please take my advice and actively consider why this post exists and who might have wanted it out there in the world, presented in that particular manner.

We’ve all been there haven’t we? On the receiving end of numerous “click here for x” or “re-share this for y”. It gets a bit much doesn’t it? Often with just a quick peek on snopes.com will reveal that this is yet another “click bait” situation.

It doesn’t need to be this way. We all owe it to ourselves to consider the source of our information. This doesn’t mean everyone lies, but it does mean that sometimes people will present things in a way that alters the way you perceive events. We are a reactionary society these days, someone will post something and we’ll jump right up on board. So how do we stop the vicious cycle?

First step is to stop. Many stories circulating around the internet are written in a way to invoke an emotional reaction. Don’t give them that! Take a break, walk around the block, do a yoga session or my personal favorite, go clean the heck out of something to get rid of the frustration. Do what you can to calm your mind before coming back to this, posting when you are emotionally charged is going to put you in with everyone else who shares these things immediately with little to no thought put in.

Second step is to think about the information. Why is it frustrating you? Is the person sharing this information looking for a reaction? Vet the information (Snopes.com is a good source for most click bait on Facebook) as best you can. You don’t need to research for a week, a quick 10-minute internet search can really reveal the other sides of the argument you are trying to examine. You aren’t writing an essay for school, so this doesn’t need to be formal or be held to a scientific standard, this is just you spending some time to get informed about your world. Making this more complex than it needs to be is part of the reason I get overwhelmed and I’m sure that I’m not alone.

Mindfulness is powerful, I know it sounds like a load, but I’ve felt my temper has calmed significantly since I implemented some simple routines for my day. I also find that what used to overwhelm me before (usually the mountains of click bait sailing past my news feed on Facebook) doesn’t frustrate me as much anymore.

More importantly: Why the heck should you do this?

We can’t become complacent, we will then get taken advantage of by people who recognize that weakness and exploit it. You don’t need to conduct hours upon hours of research and craft a ten-page paper on it either. This is just you, informing yourself about the issues of your world. Read more than one source, read a newspaper, online paper or watch a station you don’t normally on occasion. It seems simple, but it will expand your understanding. Resist the urge to scoff and turn it off though! You are investing this time, whatever you can spare, to educate yourself. Think of it this way, if you want to bring people over to your side, you have to understand how the opposing side thinks. Otherwise you’ll be locking horns into eternity.

So get out there, inform yourself by considering the source of the information you receive. Even if all you do is stop the endless cycle of ridiculous click bait on Facebook, you will make the world a much more informed place.