When we wrote reports in History class in school, we knew that our data needed to be backed up by facts: facts which were cited by reliable sources. Our test results in Chemistry and Physics classes needed to be backed up by the experiments we conducted in the laboratory. When we solved Mathematics problems, we knew that merely writing “left hand side = right hand side” wouldn’t fetch us any marks. We needed to show proof for our statements and our opinions. And, maybe this made us think twice before expressing our opinion, but we knew that when we made a point, it was a point worth making. And, it was backed up by true data points. Remember, how we had that one encyclopedia which was our Gospel truth. So, where’s our Gospel truth today?
The social bandwagon
I wonder when it all changed. Today, you can get away by making claims about almost anything imaginable and no one will challenge you. A few years back, people on Facebook would use news articles to justify their views on a topic. Today, it’s just someone else’s post, without verifying if there’s even any semblance of truth attached to that particular post. Falling off the bandwagon was always a problem, I agree. But its alarming to see the rate at which everyone’s climbing on to the social bandwagon without knowing where it’s headed.
I continuously witness “Facebook Wars” where people use any sort of justification to support their claims. Maybe, it’s all harmless. But, lately I’ve witnessed cases where people have gone out of the way to tarnish someone’s reputation without knowing the actual facts. It’s always fun to join the crowd and point fingers at others. But, what may seem like a harmless activity may impact others negatively, and leave a psychological impact.
Who started it?
Who’s to blame. Almost anyone or any major company can get away today with making any claim, as long they add a small disclaimer in the tiniest font possible on the least seen corner of the product package. Somewhere along the way, it became natural to over-state the truth, or misrepresent facts as long as it doesn’t really harm anyone. But, today it is harming a lot of people. And, it’s blatant and gross misrepresentation of facts really.
Why do we even need to read fiction anymore? We can just read the newspaper. Call it sensationalism if you want, but since when did outright lying become journalism?
But, isn’t it just marketing
What’s the definition of marketing? As per Investopedia, it is “Activities of a company associated with buying and selling a product or service. It includes advertising, selling and delivering products to people. ” Notice how none of this includes
1.) Making up facts about yourself or a product which don’t exist.
2.) Misrepresenting facts to make them seem fancier than they are.
3.) Also there needs to be a pre-existing product/service. I find people making up lies on their resume to sell themselves. Events which never took place, awards which were never really awarded. This isn’t marketing at all.
So, what do we do?
If I tell you to do nothing and to just accept how the world has become, there would be no point in writing this article. Remember somewhere inside us, we still have our sense of what is right and what isn’t. Just because people blindly support something without justification, doesn’t mean you need to join that herd.
Following are some things which you can do to make sure you’re not swayed by the media of lies:
- Stop believing everything you read online. So far, I find the Economist to still be pretty truthful. There are quite a few honest and truthful newspapers/tabloids out there. Please follow those, and not Facebook status updates.
- Refer to more than one source when you are trying to back up your opinion or views on something. Just forcing your point forward because you believe in it isn’t the way we were taught to debate in school.
- Think of the generation after us. Are they going to grow up reading Facebook posts, as opposed to reading the newspaper? If you have young cousins, siblings or kids, try to show them there’s a better way to learn.
And, finally don’t believe me based on my article. Go research a little more, and decide for yourself if what I say makes any sense.