Is Social Media Making You Crazy?

Social Media

Wade Through the Silly Stuff to Keep Your Sanity

Thunder Bay – OPINION – The Internet is a plus and a minus at the same time. Over the course of the Global Pandemic between email, social media, Zoom, and other tools of the Internet we have been able to keep up with the news, and keep in touch with families and friends.

Those are the very positive results of having solid Internet and the ability to keep communications going.

During the last global pandemic, radio was still in its absolute infancy. The first radio news program was broadcast on August 31, 1920 by station 8MK in Detroit, Michigan, which survives today as all-news format station WWJ under ownership of the CBS network.

In Canada, CKCO in southern Ontario made its first broadcast in May, 1922. Getting information back in 1919 was not as easy as it is today.

There were no instantaneous mass means of getting information.

So to find out and figure out what was happening people would rely on each other face-to-face, or from the newspapers.

So today, despite all the restrictions, all the mandates, we are far more able to communicate with each other. From our smartphones, tablets and computer screens, we have a world of information at our fingertips.

It has in many ways levelled the playing field. As an example, on February 20, 2022, Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth II had tested positive for COVID-19. Within mere seconds of each other, media outlets from NetNewsledger based in Thunder Bay to media giants like the Toronto Star, BBC, and ABC News all had the news.

News at the Speed of the Internet© is how information travels today. Some of that information – once fact-checked – is great to know.

We get in fact so much information at times that it is important at times to simply go for a walk, take a break, read a book, or just sit back with family or friends and talk.

Perhaps sometimes today people get so connected to their smartphone that they can’t put down their device. Ever wake up in the middle of the night and right away reach for your phone?

Ever drop what you are doing because your phone goes ‘bing’ with a notification?

Putting your phone away won’t mean you are disconnected from the world, but it is a good step to protecting your mental health.

Then there is the darker side of the Internet, where people are sharing mis-information, and other ‘Fake News’.

Fake News?

Fake news is defined as false or misleading information presented as real news. The term was first used in the 1890s when sensational reports in newspapers were common. Imagine that, they had the paper version of click-bate headlines back then.

Former United States President Donald J. Trump frequently used the term to describe the New York Times, CNN, and other media outlets. With the growth of social media, comments on news websites and perhaps the global pandemic, there has been a large resurgence in people claiming that main stream media companies are creating fake news.

In lots of ways, fake news is often the claim when the news report isn’t what a person reading it wants to hear, or believes – or perhaps wants to believe.

Is it all “Left Wing” Mainstream Media?

As an example of “Fake News” let us examine one of the pieces of news that has made the rounds on social media in recent weeks.

The claim that Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is actually the son of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro has been repeatedly posted on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

A Fox News reporter, Tucker Carlson spent time on his show treating this story as a fact.

The truth? Well this story has been debunked more times than most “Fake News”.

Don’t trust AP News?

No problem, Snopes debunked this one back in 2016.

Snopes states, “The Trudeaus were indeed close to Fidel Castro, who once described Pierre Trudeau as “a close friend and an extraordinary figure.” Margaret Trudeau was also open in her later writings about her various past affairs. And yes, young Castro and Justin Trudeau might bear a physical resemblance. The notion that the Trudeaus and the Castros met in 1971, however, is based what appears to be a willful misreading of a newspaper article by a reddit use”.

Always keep in mind that the person telling you that something is “Fake News” just might not have the best fact-checking department.

Again, rather than let social media drive you, let the facts be your guide. It is very easy on social media for you to see something, realize it is a friend who shared it which is why it ended up on your social media timeline, and end up thinking it is accurate information.

Taking into account that facts, data, and through the pandemic, that science and medical experts who have spend their lives wading through the information probably have the skill set to ensure the decisions they are making are ones that are based on science.

Remember, you can control your social media and online time. It helps to keep your sanity during stressful times.

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