Thursday, July 11, 2019

A Bane of Social Media

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

While there are several frustrating things on social media, one stands out from the herd. That is when people are compelled to comment without having read the posts or articles. The worst part is when people who post things are told they're wrong, stupid, lying, whatever, by people who have not bothered to read the material. Answers to objections and questions are often contained in the linked articles.


One problem on social media seems to stand out from the rest. A little experiment helped support my position.
Image provided by Why?Outreach
Sometimes people will read the few sentences of introduction that are placed to encourage people to read the actual article, and they seem to feel that they are well enough informed to comment. Not usually.

Now don't be disunderstanding me, most of us who make posts are not expecting everyone to read everything. Also, a stand-alone captioned picture is an invitation for comments. (People who are aware of my posts and articles may have noticed that I seldom use a question as a title in hopes that people will actually read the linked material before commenting. A question can be taken as an invitation to comment without reading.) This kind of commenting is seen throughout social media, including Fazebook, Twitface, weblogs, and more. 

In fact, I've embarrassed myself by reading something too quickly, commenting, and being informed that my query was addressed after all.


Not too long ago, I posted an article about the value of vaccinations. Many people were outraged, and I saw Proverbs 18:13 validated before my eyes. They did not want to read the material, even castigating me for writing it. Worse, there was no interest in actually reading the material that I wrote or the detailed articles that were linked. Apparently, people were locked in by their emotions and the "facts" that they already believed from anti-vaxxers and similar groups (see Proverbs 18:17).

I had a bit of an experiment a spell back. On Facebook at The Question Evolution Project, I posted an item called "Atheist Accepts Multiverse Theory Of Every Possible Universe Except Biblical One". We had many comments by people who were angry at atheists, but didn't notice the source: The Babylon Bee, a "Christian news satire" site.



Here is where I want to make another point. People tend to accept what they read when the material confirms their biases or assumptions without checking the source. Good satire can be hard to distinguish from actual reports, and this one about the atheist accurately described how many of them act. Some of the people commenting on the post knew that it was a parody site, but others lashed out at the "atheist" in the story. I was letting it go, but another Admin stepped in and made it clear in the comments area that the content was satire.

Care should be used when getting material from unknown sites. You can find material that "proves" ghosts, UFOs, that the Anunnaki are our ancient reptilian masters from outer space working with the Illuminati, anti-vaxxers, flat-earthers, atheists, geocentrists, King James Onlyists, and more. Often, the name of the site or the weblog can prompt a reader or researcher to find more reliable sources. I lack belief that sites like that consider material that does not fit their narratives. God gave us minds, and he expects us to use them.



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