Is this fake news? Here’s an easy litmus test you can apply
People talk about a lot more about fake news and conspiracy theories these days. When your social media accounts keep receiving overwhelming amount of conflicting information, how can you tell what is fake and what’s not? There is an easy way to at least filter it, and it works for any news, regardless of political orientations. Here’s how.
Before getting into the details, take a step back and remember what news is. In an ideal world where everyone is satisfied and happy, we probably won’t need news: our place would be full of good stories, and it will be enough for everyone. But unfortunately, happiness is not easy to come by in our real life, especially collectively. So we need news, which serves to identify and share problems – injustice, inequity, unfairness, conflicts, violence, sickness, disasters, you name it – and then explore possible solutions together. Because of that nature, news is often driven by negative emotions such as anger, anxieties or frustration. It’s unsatisfied energy needing an outlet that often spreads unnerving news that rattles society. That’s why some people see golden opportunities in disseminating fake news – it’s the power of negative feelings that they try to take advantage of.
Fake news or conspiracy theories have a clear agenda, and it’s to make people act in a way they want – immediately. They are craftily fabricated to amplify/intensify your feelings: after you read it, you are angrier, more resentful, detesting, despising, scared or panicked. It’s so much so that your body is filled with adrenaline, which needs be discharged immediately. So you act before thinking twice.
Regardless of the message, you can trace back your emotional status to filter the news. Did it multiply your negative feelings, which ended up overwhelming you? Did you feel that you had to act NOW (e.g. to rush to a store immediately to hoard toilet papers)? If that’s what happened, it’s likely that the news you saw had some level of fabrication. You may want to double check the source sooner than later, because it will become more difficult if you become too agitated to stay calm.