I’ve posted before about how what we say and how we behave affects people. But how about being discerning with what information we disseminate online? What we share online also affects people (this is now sounding like a preview of my next positivity in social media post), and so some discernment would be recommended.
However, discernment sometimes seems scarce in social media. I’m not sure exactly why, since everything which is posted online travels at the speed of light, can reach an incredible amount of people and is there FOREVER. So, one would think that we would all be careful in what we post, tweet, comment, yes?
However, I think that in this technological era, it’s all too easy to make snap judgments and then tweets, post and repost away. It’s just the click of a button. Easy. However, what happens when we’re wrong? When we repost and are incorrect?
I reposted the following on my Facebook status a couple of days ago:
In the past 72 hours Israeli cities (Not military camps. Cities!) have been bombarded by over 70 missiles. Many Israeli citizens are wounded, some are dead. This has not reached the news at all. No mention of this is on CNN, BBC or SKY. If you condemn targeting missiles on women and children-please put this message on Facebook!
I don’t frequently repost, but in this case, I knew that Israel was getting bombarded, and that I hadn’t heard much about it. The fact that I had heard a reference to it on NPR didn’t seem to register with me at the time. Not too long after this post went up, a friend of mine requested a source.
A source??! I thought. Chutzpah!! I scoured the ‘net for information about the shellings, posted four links as well as a piece of my mind about terrorism and Israel and media bias. So there!
However, my (very nice) friend calmly replied that he wasn’t doubting that there were rocket attacks, he just wanted to know what my source was if it wasn’t being reported widely, and that if it’s something to be reposted, people need something to link to for more information.
I realized that I had responded the way I did because I was embarrassed that I could have reposted something that wasn’t true. In fact, doing a quick search of the news sites which were mentioned, I found that there was a story on the “truce” on the homepage of BBC.com.
So I changed my status to this:
Many Israeli cities have been bombarded with missiles in the last five days. Though the coverage is not as extensive as we would like it to be, it is there. We may not like it, but the news is not up to us. What is up to us is praying and doing good deeds to improve the world. Please daven (pray) for peace to finally come to Israel, and for all this horrible violence to stop. You can repost this to try and make a difference, but the difference is really up to you.
When I had reposted that first status, I really felt that I was doing the right thing. I’m often unhappy with the media coverage given to Israel, and remembered how I felt like I heard nothing about the plight of the residents of Sderot whose city was under assault from Gaza for years. So this scenario seemed plausible.
But I was wrong. I reacted emotionally and, even though I agree that the situation should be publicized on Facebook, I publicized something which was partially untrue. And on top of that, I reacted defensively to a friend who didn’t deserve that kind of response. It’s doubly embarrassing, but provides two good lessons:
1) Check, check and double-check before reposting. Are the facts really accurate? Is it something that I can stand behind if asked about?
2) Don’t post while upset. Watch those emotions. Yes, it’s a topic I feel strongly about, but replying to something when I still feel defensive or riled up is usually a recipe for disaster.
Part of being an upright person is being honest. Honest with others, honest with ourselves. It’s easy to spread rumors about media bias, or the latest scandal involving who-knows-what, or misinformation in general. However, spreading things too soon, without proper thought, creates more confusion in the world and therefore, less connection.
I’m going to try to be more discerning with what I share. I’m sure that I will still slip, most likely in areas where my passions run high, but hopefully I can try and achieve the goal of being honest and discerning in my interactions, online and off.
image via Wikipedia
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- Torah Tuesdays: Thinking before speaking
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