The way we process information has been completely and overwhelmingly been changed with the advent of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, “news” websites, and other mediums that an average Joe can get their hands into and make statements which are not necessarily true.
Why—you may ask—have once-credible professionals like journalists, scientists, and other experts in their respective field been subject to massive waves of skepticism? One probable answer to that is the a la carte nature of the internet. Prior to the ease of googling everything, opinions are shaped on public discourse, TV programs, and books. A defining commonality with these pre-internet information streams is that you don’t get facts as quickly as you type keywords in Google. Thus, people form their opinions in a slow and methodical way. If you browse the library looking to support your belief that climate change isn’t real, chances are you’d go home disappointed. Then you’d search some more, only to read more evidence and facts that climate change is real, and it isn’t China’s invention this time. On the other hand, google that some thing and you’ll most probably bump across articles and websites confirming your belief.
“So, shall we go back to the old-fashioned library search and forget the internet?” Absolutely not! The internet has been an invaluable tool for society. Case in point, millennials are noted to be the most well-educated generation. Not a coincidence considering that millennials are undeniably the most adept at the internet.
But just like how medieval people didn’t fully harness the power of written text in its early stages due to majority of people not knowing how to read nor write, us as a society haven’t fully learned to harness the internet and recognize its inherent flaws. With the rise of the term “fake news”, anti-intellectualism in the form of unjustified distrust of credible sources, and crass justification of one’s opinions, one can only wonder how to navigate the internet without getting lost in the “melting pot” of facts and opinions.
Stay tuned for the continuation!