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How To Know Whether A Viral Story Is Real Or Not

How To Know Whether A Viral Story Is Real Or Not

In the digital age, news no longer requires days or weeks to be passed around. A breaking story can be broadcast to the entire world in a few short hours. Gone are the days of painfully long waiting times for a letter to be delivered or to arrive. Our global microwave culture can witness mind-bending news reports or accomplishments in what feels like no time at all.

With the ability to share information and stories at the speed of lightning has come a slew of false information. There seems to be a new viral story popping up every week, which begs the question – “Did this viral story actually take place?” Fortunately, the Web hosts a variety of sites and resources that are useful in hunting down authentic information. Check out our list below for a digital truth-testing toolbox.

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Examine With FotoForensics

This website provides an upload feature to scan a picture for quality disparities. The site examines your photo or URL to detect any suspicious graphic elements. FotoForensics uses a procedure called error level analysis (ELA), highlights potential issues with the picture and then provides sharing options.

Check Out Google’s Reverse Image Search

If doubting a photo is real at all, or that it came from a completely different source, hop on over to Google and check the image out. Your result should turn up a year the picture was taken and likely the location.

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Upload And Assess With TinEye

This site is another popular and quickly-growing resource for reverse image searching. The site has already indexed over 13 billion images and this is not slowing down any time soon.

Look Deeper With Jeffrey Friedl’s Image Viewer

The exchangeable image file (EXIF) on pictures and video is recorded during the creation of a file. To fully determine when, where and in what format a piece of media was created, you’ll need to access the EXIF. This can be easily done on Friedl’s site.

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Retrieve Info With WolframAlpha

This site is a mega database of information, and especially useful when it comes to determining the weather on a certain day. You can plug in the info you’re looking for along with the date, and WolframAlpha will return to you an impressively comprehensive result. This resource comes in handy if you see a post or picture about a natural disaster or weather incident that seems highly unlikely.

Verify With YouTube DataViewer

YouTube’s DataViewer is, surprisingly, not readily accessible through YouTube. Rather, it was first provided through the non-profit Amnesty International, an organization that works to uphold human rights across the globe and validate those who have been wronged. Their convenient web tool allows you to search for fraudulent uploads and “scrapes” – generally, any kind of video that does not legitimately have the origin or source it claims to have.

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Consult Various Online Maps

Last but far from least, some of the primary online maps such as Google Earth, Wikimapia and Google Street View are all highly reliable sources for map info. Wikimapia is essentially the crowdsourced version of Google Maps, but has additional resources. Google Earth and Street View are also always being updated, and provide exhaustive details and options for customizing a search. There’s little these three maps alone cannot verify, if anything.

Viral videos and pictures become viral for a reason – they tap into sensationalism in some fashion, and people’s emotions are so moved that they feel an urge to spread the word. Anger, shock, sadness, elation and outrage can all push someone over the brink, but the vast majority of people will not hold themselves back long enough to examine a viral story further. Now, thanks to these web tools, you have rapid and trustworthy methods for checking out what’s real, and what’s rubbish.

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Brad Johnson

Top 5 Kindle Author | Author of 10 Books

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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