You just got burned in an argument because, once again, you quoted something you saw on social media.
While we all know it, it’s sometimes hard to remember that facts are not the foundation on which social media is built. There are four really good reasons why you should never trust social media at all, especially when your personal reputation is at stake.
Social Media Is Not Always Up To Date
A truth you can count on is that memes, statements, and other forms of information never disappear from the Internet. If Google search any topic, you will find sources of information that are years old. That’s okay, though, because responsible websites put dates on their information which put it into the proper context.
Social media, on the other hand, doesn’t always
have a date stamp. Even when there is a date stamp, people don’t always bother to look at it before sharing or commenting. Some people even mess with date stamps when circulating old information. Social media is fun like that.
How many times have you been enraged by a post you saw on Facebook and responded to that post as though it were just put up that day? It happens all of the time. But many times, the post you are responding to is a year or more older. It may have been appropriate when it was originally posted, but now it has a different context that makes you really angry.
Many of the pieces of information you see floating around Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and other social media outlets are years old. When that information was first created, it had a different context than it does now. You don’t drink milk when it is past its expiration date, so why would you trust social media information that is years old?
The Information On Social Media Is Rarely In Context
Information taken out of context can be used to prove or disprove anything. You see it all of the time: someone says something and the media focuses on a fragment of a sentence that makes the person sound crazy.
Social media does that constantly. The worst part about social media is that the statements you read could have been edited and distorted several times over, to the point where the original author doesn’t even recognize them anymore.
Another little trick that social media likes to do is attribute statements to people who never made them. For example, there are plenty of memes with quotes from Morgan Freeman that Morgan Freeman never said. Social media also tends to use headlines that have almost nothing to do with the article just to get people to click.
In short, by the time something potentially embarrassing about a celebrity or someone you know gets circulated on social media, it’s probably been pulled so far from its original context that it should no longer be considered valuable information.
Sometimes Social Media Information Is Just A Lie
Jackie Chan, Hugh Hefner, Usher, Jon Bon Jovi, and Russell Crowe were all alive for Valentine’s Day, 2014. Why is that relevant to this discussion? Because social media had reported that all of these celebrities, at some point, were dead.
It is always amusing to see celebrities go on Facebook with pictures of themselves holding a current edition of the New York Times just to prove they are not dead. It is even more amusing to see all of the Facebook tribute pages that pop up the moment one of these rumors gets started. The Jackie Chan thing comes up so often that even Jackie is starting to believe he is dead.
If you cannot trust social media to give you accurate information as to whether a celebrity is alive or dead, then why would you trust social media to be your source of information on politics and religion? Do yourself a favor: go to real sources of information and stop believing every meme you read.
George Takei Is Not Always Right
It is safe to say that anyone who uses social media has read at least one post by George Takei. He has become that favorite uncle on social media that everyone loves to hear from and everyone trusts. But is the information he distributes always right?
This is not an attempt to bash George Takei at all. He is an accomplished actor and extremely prominent in several important causes. But just like every other person on social media, he sometimes distributes information without really knowing if it is right or not. Uncle George is a bit more responsible than some of the other social media icons that people flock to, but he can still have those oops moments like every0ne else.
The simple truth is that most social media memes and viral statements tend to be based on opinion and have very little basis in facts. Just because you are a fan of a social media icon does not mean that you should blindly trust what he has to say. Oh my.
The Internet Is Lying To You
Social media is only as accurate as the people using it. With all the conspiracy theorists and religious fanatics out there posting information they swear is true, it can be difficult to determine what you can and cannot trust. One thing is for sure, social media is not the best resource for accurate and timely information.
How about you? Do you still think social media is telling you the truth? Have you encountered false information too?