Take Your Social Media Lessons With A Pinch of Salt
If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes accepted as truth.

2 Jan 2021, by Chinmay

Social media and the internet in general have become a very integral part of our lives. They have become our one-stop-shop for keeping in touch with our friends and family. For many people around me, especially young, conventional newspaper editorials and opinions have been replaced by social media posts and memes as their primary and instantaneous source of information.

The intention of this article is to give all readers a heads-up that social media and internet is manipulable, and is largely manipulated with various objectives. We must keep this in mind when consuming any kind of information.

Why this?

It is becoming increasingly noticeable these days that seeking unbiased information is getting more difficult.

Our political discourse is only getting more hateful. We are living in virtual bubbles, built by internet organizations to give us opinions that we may strongly like or dislike. Machine learning models have rightly(?) learnt that ad revenue can be most effectively generated by feeding such polarizability.

Political and business outfits are using this to their own benefits. This has caused entire websites and societies to become echo chambers. Combined with the sudden ease in internet accessibility, we are slowly believing their illusion of truth, both individually, and as a society as a whole. As Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels said (or maybe not, and the internet probably epitomized what I was trying to explain), “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes accepted as truth…”

It is forgivable to fall into the trap of being misled, and misleading someone else, that we’re not only falling victims to this, but often also becoming a part of their propaganda. It doesn’t help that the complete architecture of the internet is assisting in this propaganda.

Confirmation bias is real, and this change is palpable even around us. So much misinformation is floating about COVID-19, that the truth has become harder to discern. It is as unfathomable for some of my friends why somebody would support the BJP and Narendra Modi, as it is for my other friends why anybody would support the Congress and Rahul Gandhi (or anybody but Narendra Modi).

My mind boggles to learn how differently informed they are. I find it amusing to understand that most of us are concerned about similar things – but we’re working with completely different datasets to train ourselves about them!

Worse yet, this is only going to aggravate with time if we are not proactive.

To that end, we must work to make ourselves more inclusive. We must remind ourselves of this when we consume any information, and educate ourselves and others to be more open to logical and constructive opinions, without being bogged down by arbitrary misinformed biases.

I will not be surprised if this phenomenon will have a huge part to play in the next man-made disaster (I hope not, but we can already see glimpses of it), and there is no better time than this new year to address this and spread awareness about it.