Yesterday, I read a report from MIT researchers about how so-called "fake news" spreads about six times faster than true stories on Twitter! The researchers found that it was more due to real people than any "bots" automatically spreading fake stories.
The whole thing reminded me of something from a long time ago. A quote by Walt Kelly, published in this cartoon in 1971, shortly after the first Earth Day. Then it was about trash & pollution of the physical kind. Now, we've added trash and pollution of the information kind.
Recently, the talk has been about "the Russians" meddling in our elections. They reportedly set up "bots" online to inject "fake news" and inflammatory comments into our social media.
To be clear, I don't think the Russians are the problem. They've just figured out how to amplify what's already there.
Our responsibility, therefore, it seems, is to recognize this tendency in ourselves, catch ourselves indulging in the fantastic story, then take a step back (a BIG step back), stop and breathe. I recommend that we take a few moments to engage our healthy skepticism, invoke some patience, and settle down while more information becomes available.
Hard stuff, perhaps, but if we don't, we're just fueling the fires.