Ok, Maybe Take My Word For It?

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An average day for reading for me consists of a lot, and I mean a lot, of reading. I generally begin my mornings by reading the news on my phone (news apps and aggregate apps). My Google Home keeps me company when I’m getting ready with news podcasts.

All of this reading and listening makes sense, as I’m an English teacher.

My post last week touched on “fake news” in regards to media literacy with students, but I focused mostly on a pedagogical approach to media literacy, with resources like the NYT.

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In terms of my own consumption of media, I’ve pared down what I consume in terms of sources. I’ve logged off of Facebook and Instagram as a New Year’s resolution and have stuck to it, surprisingly. I re-visited my lack of Facebooking in February and decided that I really didn’t need it and have kept it shut down.

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Which, considering the news recently, I think was a wise decision in hindsight.

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In my Facebook news feed were all kinds of “articles” from all different kinds of sources, like well-meaning aunts posting Food Babe articles or Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest and greatest “medical” treatments.

When I or anyone is faced with these articles on a social media feed, there is a choice: do you comment or not? If you comment, you risk offending relatives (which makes holidays a wee bit awkward) or ignore it.

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If you comment, are you educating the person? Do they want to know if the information they’re posting is wrong? Why did they post it in the first place? Do I have a moral obligation (similar to the one that caused them to post in the first place…) to correct what I perceive as misinformation?

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The question of information versus misinformation is hard to tackle in such a limited space, like Facebook, where if I refresh the page, I have one heck of a time finding that post again. But, Facebook counts on that limited attention span. They hope I get distracted by someone’s cat pictures, forget about the controversial thing and click on that ad they just posted.

This also brings up the question of media literacy in older as well as younger consumers of news. I wonder who is more media literate? Younger or older generations? Or are they equally susceptible to fake news?

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In terms of analyzing media I come across, I try to practice what I preach. I examine the source. If I’m not familiar with the source, I use Google and DuckDuckGo (as I mentioned in a previous blog entry about filter bubbles). When I use a tool like Google, I look at the web search results and the news result. I like to see what else they have published in the past.

In addition, I try to distinguish between opinion pieces and informational articles. The line between those is sometimes blurred, as opinion can colour the facts given or how the facts are viewed by the audience (see Colten Boushie).

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It’s not easy, though. There’s so much out there I’d like to believe. But I know I can’t believe it straight on. I need to look further and deeper.

It’s a personal mission to combat fake news and to promote media literacy, not only within myself but within everyone I encounter.

Maybe I’ll have to get back on Facebook to continue this crusade…

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5 thoughts on “Ok, Maybe Take My Word For It?

  1. Great points, I particularly liked when you talked about when is it appropriate to tell someone when they are spreading false information. I find that if it is something bigoted or terribly offensive, me commenting on your Facebook post isn’t going to suddenly change your worldview. On the other hand, these posts are much more important to combat than “share for a $25 gift certificate” posts. Tough choice.

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  2. I see what you mean about Facebook having lots of fake news. I also struggle with whether or not to comment on people’s posts if they are spreading fake news. Right now I’ve started reducing the amount of reading I do with some friends who share lots. Good luck with finding out what works for you.

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  3. Many relevant points Kelsie. It is tricky to know when to say something about what others are posting or not. I personally find it easier to discuss the topic of misinformation with people I am close to, rather than engaging in what I call “Facebook battles” with people I don’t know. Even if I were to comment, it is unlikely that I will change the worldview of someone I don’t know so I personally try to stay out of the comment section on “news” articles, etc. for that reason.

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  4. I really enjoyed your blog this week, Kelsie! I also struggle with the same issue on Facebook – so many posts frustrate me, but I am hesitant to speak up because I don’t know what approach to take, or if it will ultimately have any impact. I liked the questions you posed (and borrowed them for my own blog post – thanks!). You also raise a great point when considering the media literacy skills of older vs. younger generations. I personally see a lack of these skills across the board when engaging in online spaces. How do we help teach media literacy to adults and older generations who we aren’t able to reach through daily classrooms interactions?

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