“There are two things in life I believe a person should hold on to for as long as possible: virginity and skepticism.” – Capt. Frank Irving (Orlando Jones), “Sleepy Hollow”
Maybe I’ve been in the news game too long, but I’m skeptical of stories I hear. I like hearing them twice, from another source. It’s a thing.
I have a little rule I go by when it comes to news.
I have two apps on my phone that send me breaking, national news alerts. I almost always get alerts from both of them at the same time. If I only get one alert from one source, I’m a little skeptical of the story. Often I’ll go look up a second news source to see if the alert is true.
I just want to be sure.
There are a few times where you may have to bend those rules, like if a news source has Woodward and Bernstein’d a story.
But if it’s true, that exclusive story will soon have every other reporter on the globe chasing it.
So yeah, if need be, I research the news I read and hear.
It takes a small amount of effort.
It’s worth it, however, because I happen to be pretty fond of the truth.
That’s why Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites can make me Hulk out pretty easily.
You’re scrolling along, reading your friends’ updates – hey, someone adopted a puppy! Look how that person thinks their kid is cute! Ugh, another political diatribe! – and you see it: a link to a website, usually a blog, with some horrifically scary “news.”
And worst of all, the person posting it believes it’s the truth. That it’s legitimate, well-researched, unbiased news.
It’s gotten so out-of-hand, with the same ridiculous websites and fake “stories” passed around as truth that others have had to comment on those posts and with proof from another website that the “story” is a lie.
I’ve even seen snopes.com – a website that tells you that mixing Pop Rocks and Coke won’t make your stomach explode – cited to tell people, hey, that story’s about as real as Bigfoot.
It’s so easy to see someone write something passionate that backs up your worldview, or spits all over the person, political party or team that you hate, and you want to share that.
But it ain’t the truth, and it ain’t news.
If it doesn’t come from a reputable source, or if you don’t see the same news come out of several sources, research it a bit. It won’t take long.
Better to know the truth rather than someone’s fears, paranoia or flat-out lies.
There’s enough of that in the world; we all need more truth.
And social media isn’t exactly heaping with that.
Most users post with an editor’s mind, choosing the “life-is-good” moments over their not-so-shining ones.
So, yeah, a bit of skepticism can go along way.
Sheena Barnett is entertainment reporter for the Daily Journal. Contact her at (662) 678-1580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.