It’s getting harder and harder to know who or what to believe anymore. Those of us who spend any amount of time on places like Facebook, soon get used to the non-stop barrage of propaganda, exaggeration, and outright lies. Not so much from the personal posts that friends make, but from those oh-so-shareable posts that somebody somewhere created. They are designed to shock and intrigue us enough to click on them. They make outrageous claims, which they often present as scientific fact, just to draw us in. Click-bait.
It’s a social media phenomenon that seems to have permeated our whole culture. Everything is spun. Television programs do it. Politicians do it. News services do it. They scream that the sky is falling, just so they can present themselves as saviours. This means that most of the information we are fed has been processed and pre-packaged – not to better nourish us - but in order to sell us something we don’t need.
There are a number of dangers here:
- We tend to believe something when we hear it loud enough, long enough, and often enough. We soon start to accept as fact the most ridiculous assertions from the most ridiculous sources, just because they are incessant. But people need a reasonably accurate view of the world in order to survive. If your model of reality is seriously different from the actual world, then you will struggle to take effective actions every day. When we try to live our lives based on false and inaccurate information, our whole world eventually collapses.
- We become subliminally programmed to think that the only things that matter in life are the lurid, the scandalous, the sensational, and the loud. But in the actual world it is the ordinary everyday stuff that is actually the most important. That’s the stuff that we have to get right, day in and day out.
- We can end up joining someone else’s parade. Caught up and emotionally manipulated, you can become obsessed with things that are none of your business, that you have no interest in, and things that don’t even matter – drawing you off your own track in life, eating up all your time, and ultimately, derailing your life. Little by little our thinking is swayed, until we stop resisting what we know to be wrong, and just go along with the flow.
- We gradually surrender our critical thinking to others who are just more energetic. This is the greatest danger of all. With so much easily available information at our fingertips, we all tend to get lazy and stop questioning, filtering, and evaluating information for ourselves. Soon we are nothing more than a random collection of ephemeral ideas, a reflection of our culture; rather than an individual with ideas, opinions, and values of our own. When we stop thinking for ourselves then we can only be helpless pawns in someone else’s game.
You might think your safest bet is just to follow the crowd. But a crowd of people who don’t think for themselves is just a chicken farm. And you know how that story ends. Your only real guarantee of safety in life and success as a person, is to think for yourself. So, don’t ever stop asking difficult questions – that’s how you get answers. That’s how you get to the truth of things. Be a skeptic. Don’t stop asking, “Why?” And “Who says so?”. Refuse to believe everything you hear. Challenge the 'facts' you’re given and the information you’re being fed. Think for yourself! Your future and the future of your world depend on it.