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How We Are Attracting Fake News and False Information to Our Lives

How We Are Attracting Fake News and False Information to Our Lives

A new phenomenon is taking the internet by storm, but in the worst of ways. Many of us have fallen victim to “Fake News.” And further perpetuate the issue by sharing this misinformation and regurgitating it as fact.

The news was once a trusted facet where we could inform ourselves of current events. But times have changed. With endless resources at our disposal, we are constantly confronted with news stories and studies that lack fact-checking and credibility. While these news sources are certainly in the wrong, we as readers are contributing to the issue and making it worse.

Perhaps it’s because these fake news stories appeal to our personal ideals, so we accept them as fact. Or maybe, it’s because we want to be the first one to share this information with our peers, appearing as if we are always in the know.

Our fear of missing out could be the culprit to our attraction to fake news.

The Fear of Missing Out (also known as FOMO) is the common condition with a pretty self-explanatory concept. We all want to be caught up on the latest news. It is part of the human condition to want to be informed. Therefore, when we see breaking news on the internet, we are inclined to share the stories to educate our peers.

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The huge issue with this is that many people don’t make it past the headline. Without even reading the articles, we share them on multiple social media outlets such as Facebook or Instagram, not even realizing what we are actually sharing.

In our effort to feel superior and informative, we are actually showing our peers how ignorant and gullible we are.

When we passively take in information, we blindly fall victim to bias.

Do you have a favorite go-to news source? Are you sure that it’s credible? Sometimes when we find a news outlet that appeals to our concerns and ideals, we passively take in the information, and don’t even think to challenge the “facts.”

For example, individuals who consider themselves to be extremely right winged politically tend to gravitate towards Fox News and bash any news sources that dare contradict any of their news stories. They have developed a bias, and will reject any information that doesn’t follow their agenda.

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Many of us do this without realizing it, and are negatively influenced by authoritative sources. There are three types of bias to look out for:

  • My-Side Bias- the kind of bias that gets formed when you’re in a collaborative group with strong ideals. You will gravitate towards information that confirms your group’s objective.
  • Authoritative Bias- a logical reasoning fallacy where you will refer to an authoritative source to either confirm or deny information. (Ex. Fox News. If they do not agree with the information, then it must not be true.)
  • Confirmation Bias- blinds people from being objective to facts. We don’t want to believe that we are wrong, so we will dismiss information that contradicts our beliefs. We will limit our intake of new information that does not resonate with our pre-existing beliefs.

To stop taking in false information, start with removing unreliable sources.

Evaluate the source of information.

How credible is this source really? Why do you take their word for fact, and is there perhaps some bias involved? Think about why you started to follow this individual or news source to begin with, and if it is still relevant to your current interests.

For example, maybe you started to follow a public figure because he was a really funny guy who shared a lot of jokes and funny videos. At the beginning he only shared about some nonsense jokes or funny things he did every day. But later, he started to joke about issues related to different races or sexual orientation. Be smart enough to know whether the information is valid or whether the public figure’s stance on something align to what you truly believe. Don’t just blindly follow what he believes without processing the information.

Try to disconnect from Facebook.

Much easier said than done, as this is a deep-seeded urge that we all have. FOMO typically stems from unhappiness, and a need for attention.[1] How do we dispel these urges?

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Disconnecting is one option. I know, I know. You just CAN’T LIVE without constantly checking into social media. But here’s the thing. You existed and survived without it before, you can do it again. Don’t go cold turkey, but just try to do it less. You have no idea how free and peaceful your mind will become when you stop overwhelm your brain with unnecessary information.

Search for different perspectives, always.

Don’t rely on one source for all of your information.[2] Look for opposing viewpoints on the subject that you’re looking into the get an even keel of the situation. You may realize something that you hadn’t noticed before and change your position on the matter.

Identify your stance on the subject, and look for contradictory evidence to disprove that fact. That might seem silly, but it is the only way to truly know if your opinion is concrete.

If in a group of people, ask each individual their opinion separately, as to not let them be influenced by the position of others.

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Use the rule of three.[3] Identify three possible hypothesis for the subject to look at it from every angle. Three is the magic number because there is enough variation to get a solid overview of the subject, but not so much information that it gets confusing and the point is lost.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, writer, & plant-based food enthusiast.

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Last Updated on September 11, 2020

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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