Today, I want to talk about social media and how it can be our biggest enemy. Social media exists for us and because of us. We are social media, and somehow, we use it against us.
Do you remember that game we used to play as children when you would whisper something to the kid next to you, and he would do the same and 10 kids later, the last one had to say out loud what he heard? And usually, the game was fast and most of the times what the last one heard had nothing to do with what the first one said. That was the fun part of it, to see what the last one would get and then we would all burst into laugher.
As adults, not much has changed, as we have this wonderful technology everywhere we go and the moment we hear a rumour, we instantly write it to our WhatsApp groups of 30 friends each.
I mean, you have to tell them all … your former colleagues from 5 years ago, your social media friends, your husband or wife and of course share it publicly on Facebook to make sure that whoever is not in those groups, also get it.
Done deal. The entire things took little under 3 minutes. Now you are left with a feeling of anxiety, waiting impatiently to see how are those people going to react. Your hands almost shake. Your heart skips a beat when you get a game notification.
In a very short time, you get to experience all kinds of emotions, but you pat yourself on the back, knowing you did the right thing, by informing the crowd. You’re a local hero now. Or are you?
How social media can be our biggest enemy
What if that piece of information you frantically shared on all your online channels proves to be fake or simply inaccurate and what you just did was to spread panic, anxiety and fear?!
At this point, you slap yourself, open your eyes wide and get to read once more what you wrote and shared. Confusion settles in, and you are left baffled and start to fear any reactions. You try to delete that message, but the application gives you a warning, saying “This action will only delete the message on your interface.”
Panic settles in, as you realize you might be the fool after all.
I know you are smart, and perhaps you too realize you had a blank moment when you contributed to creating a panic message for the masses. You reached at least 50 people. No, I take that back, probably hundreds because only our moms still have 3 friends on Facebook.
WE all make mistakes, and we can all be manipulated.
Social media in a two-folded environment. It can get information out into the open at speed we never had before. Still, it can also be used to manipulate masses and spreading fake news.
At this point, social media is so big and complex, that it is hard to immediately seize any fake piece of information created by its participants. And it’s easier than never to have others help spread the news. A good enough title will do, because nobody reads entire articles. And, you wanted to be the first to share it, so reading the whole thing would have probably saved you from that shame.
This is not a made-up story. This is what I woke up to today when a piece of fake news was announcing the lockdown of Romania in the context of the Coronavirus crisis. Luckily, various media publication went live on social media and on television explaining the news and calming people down.
But even so, it created doubt in people’s minds. It made us wonder. And some are probably fighting over the last toilet paper rolls.
Read more about the Coronavirus Crisis.