Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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?

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, freelance writer, & plantbased food enthusiast.

How We Are Confusing Self-Love with Narcissism In This Generation How Traveling Can Drastically Improve Your Interpersonal Skills 10 Best Lumbar Support Cushions That All Desk Workers Need See How Your Brain Can Ruin Any of Your Workout or Healthy Eating Plans. One Small Action Separates Success From Mediocrity.

Trending in Psychology

1 How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing 2 How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy 3 The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected 4 Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering 5 How to Increase Your Self Awareness to Be Much More Successful

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

Advertising

    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

      Advertising

        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

          Advertising

          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

          Advertising

          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

          Read Next