Election Results : A Crisis or an Opportunity?

We do not need President-elect Trump to build a wall, we have already built one between us.

It seems the more outrageous the story the farther its reach on social media. Americans are polarized now more than ever. People cannot keep up with the social advances a staggering rate of change in technological offers. Our social/emotional conditioning has not progressed to fully understand the implications of social media on relationships, the economy, and health, let alone the political arena.

Listening to the results of the election funnel through across America profoundly impacted each side of the political process. Nothing could prepare us for these shocking results. Despair and futility surface after the shock has worn off for some, while others celebrate change. How do we move through this time without creating enemies of our neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family?

Pew Research reported 44% of Americans get their news from Facebook. When analyzed, 38% of Republican and 19% of Democratic news feeds are reporting misleading or out right false news. This reporting helped to shape the outcome of this election.

Reformation is the outcome of crisis in our midst. I offer an opportunity to be constructive in an atmosphere set up to be destructive. This may very well be a critical turning point in American history. No matter who you support, which side do you stand on…will you reconstruct the country in a positive or negative frame?

Steps to make our country great again using technology and our critical thinking:

1. Keep your feed balanced with both Democratic and Republican friends.

I know, this is a difficult ask. The reason for this is to understand what information the other side is being fed in their data streams. If your feed only supports your ideology, both sides are in danger of taking the blue pill of ignorance.

2. Detect and alert about false news.

Phony news falls into three categories, click-bate, satire, and fake. Click-bate has a morsel of truth, but then adds outrageous information so you will click on it and make them money. Fake sites are similar except they offer completely false headlines tailored to draw you into believing and forwarding the information to, once again, make more money. These two sites market to the gullible, don’t be gullible! Start thinking of clicking as income. Where do you want to focus your money? If we stop forwarding these sites then their income will cease. Satire sites make fun of real issues, but some may take it seriously. Reading someones comments to these sites will alert you to if the joke is understood or their is belief in the story.

Visit this site, Fake News Sites, monthly and print it out or place it in a document you can refer to while reading social media. If you find a feed on your friends social media account, don’t click on it but put a picture in the comments.

If you know the information to be inaccurate from the picture you can offer Snopes.com or any evidence based site (.edu or .gov) as a fact checker. Well known news sites are trickier to identify. We would all like to believe that the New York Times or Fox News is always accurate. Look up their statistics on delivering accurate news. Some news programs or newspapers have a high falsehood rate. Learn to discern the difference.

3. Engage in critical thinking about news feeds.

Ask yourself these questions…

a. Does it sound too good to be true?
b. Are you reading the article from an all good or all bad
c. What is the source? Do they support their statistics from valid data?
d. Could my bias about this information support the claim?
e. Is the language of the information inflammatory to a group of people (ethnic background,
income level, sexual orientation, disability, gender, etc.)
f. What do the qualified experts/scientists say?
g. Is there video directly from the person which supports the claim?
h. If you want to believe the claim regardless of what the experts say, why?

Truth starts with a question. Asking questions is the foundation of our democratic system. If you are challenged on a topic, rejoice! Not only does asking questions offer more knowledge, it increases our embrace of the democratic process. When we stop asking questions and blatantly accept all the information given to us we become a nation headed toward communism. Remember, Communists are not allowed to ask questions…don’t give up your rights fought for by countless human lives.

Written By Ellen Belluomini, LCSW

Election Results : A Crisis or an Opportunity? was originally published @ Bridging the Digital Divide in Social Work Practice and has been syndicated with permission.

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