While the Internet is one of the most amazing gifts of all time thanks to Tim Berners-Lee’s benevolent act of publicly releasing and not patenting his World Wide Web creation in 1989, which has grown virally since then giving us instant access to nearly unlimited data from around the world, it is proliferated with false information.
It’s a tough balance to maintain between data collection and free speech. We all agree (well, some of us) that someone should be able to think or say anything they want. Many of us use the Internet as a resource to access factual data, even events happening in real time that is not (could not have been, or might have been suppressed) by the media.
False Information Internet Narcissists (FIIN) stalk the World Wide Web scouring it to glean headlines, quotes taken out of context, and create photoshopped images to appease their addiction to obsessive click counting which send their dopamine system into orbit.
The quest for creating anything that “goes viral” on the Internet drives many non-malicious, twisted, thrill-seeking web surfers to create false information for the dopamine rush it provides (and maybe their 15 minutes of fame).
If you’ve ever posted something on Facebook that’s received a massive response, you know what the Internet-fueled hit of dopamine feels like. It’s a great high that makes you feel good, and it’s quite addictive. It’s what keeps us glued to our devices and clicking endlessly throughout our lives.
Not all of the fake news found on the Internet is spread in folly, some of it is posted and shared to manipulate the minds of Web-surfers. Before the present millennium, television, radio and newspapers were the media used to program and sway the minds of people to generate a particular mass mentality, and to separate us into manageable groups of polarized thinkers.
Now, the Internet provides us with a more effective access to each individual regardless of age. The programming starts as soon as a toddler is able to hold a device, and we all fall into line as it nearly becomes a demand that all individuals have access to a device connected to the Internet (though now, it is only a right, not a demand).
There are plenty of initiators of bad information with the malicious intent of controlling your thoughts or actions, as well as some who possess the well-meaning intent to sway the thoughts of others to align with their own perceptions and/or conclusions without malice.
When you are accessing information on the Internet, and you read something that seems quite fantastic, you might be better off doing a little fact-checking before joining the viral wave of fake news promoters.
We all do it. I even caught myself sharing a bit of falsified information because it was forwarded to me by a trusted friend. Because it was written in the first-person, I assumed it was written by my friend, whom I respected, and the message included a sincere request for me to share it on his behalf. (Which I’m embarrassed to admit, I did, without checking first.)
You cannot stop the spread of false information, but you can refuse to be party to its impact. Taking a few moments to do a little fact-checking before you re-post something can go a long way in slowing the spread of fake news.
All that Internet drama takes a toll on your physiology, causing cellular deterioration which can cause health decline for 8 hours following the emotional impact of a false news report.
Guarding your heart and your mind against getting sucked into a false media campaign will help you live a healthier, happier and longer life.