Finding Truth in a World of ‘Alternative Facts’

Like many of you, I am bombarded with “news” on social media all the time. Everyone seems to be sharing memes or quick headlines from a plethora of sources, and it is difficult to know how much of it is true.

Much of the “news” that is shared nowadays comes from politically biased Facebook pages like Occupy Democrats or Conservative Daily.

Sometimes we even get so charged with emotions because of a post, either because we agree with it or because we disagree, that we get carried away. So how do we know what’s true or what isn’t? How do we stay properly informed in a time when truth seems not to matter?

I don’t claim to know how to solve the issue for everyone, but here’s something that worked for me: A couple weeks ago I deleted the Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone and I tried to refrain from logging on at all. In place of these apps, I downloaded news apps: Associated Press Mobile, CNN, NBC News, and Fox News. Instead of scrolling through Facebook or Twitter for my news throughout the day, I read articles from the Associated Press (AP), followed by corresponding articles from the other three news sources.

AP is one of the most reputable and unbiased sources in existence, and many newspapers print articles from AP. Despite what the President has said, CNN is not fake news. CNN is also a very reputable and minimally biased source. NBC tends to be reputable news but may have some liberal bias, and Fox News is similar except with a conservative bias. I chose these four because of their diversity, so that if any biases existed in one article it would be counterbalanced by the opposite bias in another.

I did this for about a week, and what I found after just one week was that my thoughts on current events had become much more rational. Rather than reading an article about some crazy thing that Trump did, and then sharing it on Facebook with my own rant about how stupid Republicans are, I read simply that Trump did something and could think about whether that thing was good or bad.

I also practiced reading entire articles, rather than just headlines. When you read an entire article, you see not just the plain fact that such and such happened. A well-written article will also explain the event that happened and include multiple perspectives interpreting the event. So if the article is about President Trump signing an executive order, you could expect reading the full article to tell you exactly what the executive order will do, what Trump’s staff says about it, what Republican leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan says, what other congressional Republicans say, and what congressional Democrats say.

I would encourage anyone to try this out. I only did it perfectly for about a week (I now have Facebook and Twitter apps re-downloaded), but even just a week can open your eyes to what is truly happening in our nation and around the world. Training yourself to read the same news story from multiple different sources helps you to be able to discern real news from fake news.

Whatever you do, stay informed. There is nothing more dangerous than masses of an uninformed public. In a world of “alternative facts” and fake news, it’s important to get the facts.

 

–Evan Sherar, Staff Writer

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