The Age of Individual Research
India is going to have yet another election in 2019. A lot of things are on the line, a lot of bets have been placed. The whole circus of the great Indian elections will play again. We know how it goes. Every country knows how it goes. Suddenly the news channels become more interesting. The TRPs rise as channels break you with their news. Award-winning journalism is lynched, and award fixing journalism gets prime time. The polluted rivers become clean again, as all the trash transfers momentarily to the new age messaging apps. Internet passes on memes around. Video sites run hours of propaganda non-stop on the internet that is virtually turning freer each second. It’s funny and amusing.
We all are familiar with this. And it’s not just about politics or elections. This evergreen forest has all kinds of species involved. If there is one thing humans can never get enough of, it must surely be ‘rumours’.
Indians especially will be well versed with the great world of Whatsapp forwards. And we see them every year, again and again, unrestrained growing at our backs. We make jokes about them and they are still considered seriously by some folks. It would not be a stretch to say, that the habits of Indian Whatsapp users must have cost at least a handful of innocent human lives. We know some issue is too massive to handle, when global companies run ads about them, even though they earn no money from it.
And yes, it’s not ok. And it’s not just about some forwards or random politicians and anchors barking on news channels or shady websites telling cures for cancers. It is never just that.
We know news is very important for us, but only when its true. And you can’t call just about any news fake. You have to know first. And that is where we all come in the picture.
It’s disturbing how we so easily believe urban myths and assume any .com website is legit.
We can be foolish, stupid and plainly clumsy at times, but we can never afford to believe in lies. That is how stories of societal values’ destruction begin. Armageddons aren’t volcanoes bursting from the ground or asteroids falling from the sky. It is this, these little memes. These bits of information that are completely imagined. That is how the dark ages will begin again.
And the only crusade we need is ‘individual research’. It’s fun too! Just like catching a thief. Whenever someone talks about something, even if on a national television channel, or a blue tick verified social media account, just search for it elsewhere. Or start by asking that is it too good to believe or too bad to even remember? If the answer is even slightly yes, it probably is fake. Download some antivirus/antimalware extension on your browser. Be curious about knowing the right thing and not just ‘knowing’. Cross check facts from reliable sources and be more informed in general. And try to be a more responsible citizen which makes you a more impactful part of your democracy.
After all, this is the age of individual research and when you have got them with their pants on fire
you know what you have to do.