It disturbs me when I see folks on social media posting potentially damaging things without a sense of critical analysis and discernment, or acting apparently without integrity. I’ve seen both on facebook today.
Both the overly rational and the overly irrational seem susceptible to this on facebook. In the eagerness to post and be “heard” they reject interpretations or ideas that don’t fit their existing world views, and are willing to post ideas and recommendations without consideration or critical filtering. One will put forward a ridiculous hypothesis simply because it fits their own pre-conceptions. Another is content to push unproven multi-level marketing food supplements to “friends”, the reputation of which is based solely on unsubstantiated claims and self-serving testimonials generated by its massive sales community. The first was so ridiculous it didn’t even require investigation, all I needed was a laymans understanding of the weather (that atmospheric conditions vary daily, and affect cloud formation). The second I evaluated in about ten minutes, using Google to find multiple credible sources with consistent and reasoned assessments.
Such is the danger of social media – people are willing to say and do things with little discrimination or integrity. Things most of us would think hard about before saying in person to a single friend, let alone to a large crowd. They do this because they don’t see the consequences, and lack the empathic imagination to realise that there might be any.
Social media is a place where even relatively normal people seem drawn to act like paranoids and sociopaths. Even those exhibiting such behaviour are able to establish and retain “friend” networks full of people who can be misled and hurt by the self-serving and ill considered ideas, beliefs and recommendations that are posted here, along with the inane and harmless, and that which is of genuine value—not least the humour!
Facebook supports and propagates the output of anti-social sharers because it is a commercial entity, with a legal obligation to maximise profit. Facebook is not tasked with creating the healthiest community it can, but the one that generates most returns for its investors.
So before you accept anything you read on facebook, twitter, and the interwebs in general – including this – think!
Don’t assume the same level of discernment and integrity you’ve grown accustomed when you hear things from your “real” friends. Ask yourself if what is posted makes sense as it is, or if there might be some other perspectives that are being overlooked, or if you might need more information so you can make a judgment. If there’s some doubt there, look into it. If you don’t have time, let it pass. If you aren’t discerning about it, why assume that your friend has been?
Show some integrity before you post or share, otherwise you’ll just be spreading random rubbish, including perhaps a harmful “mal-idea” viral infection to *all* your friends.