I was first misled by the media when I was very young. I was watching a children’s TV network, and the hosts did a mock news story of giant robotic bugs that were taking over the world. There were images of these hellish insects causing chaos in cities across Canada, and one of the TV hosts was even attacked, with the camera dramatically falling to the ground as the screen faded to black.
I was terrified. I thought my friends, my school, my future, and the country I loved were all in danger.
My parents quickly calmed me and explained that it was all a hoax. A brief glance at the newspaper or a real news network proved them right. There were no giant robotic bugs, the world was not ending, and I learned a valuable lesson: do not believe anything without verifying it.
It seems every time I check my Facebook there are people falling for “giant robotic bug” hoaxes. A meme will spread like wildfire with a fabricated statement from a public figure, or with statistics that are simply made up, or with images that have no correlation with what is being discussed. Often these memes are fear-mongering tidbits of misinformation with the goal of convincing the reader that society as they know it is under threat. And just as they did to me, these “giant robotic bug” hoaxes scare the crap out of people.
Of course, hoaxes could be verified with an Google search. But in our super-speed, information-overload lives, the split second required to prevent yourself from being fooled is much too valuable. As fact checking is apparently off the table, I would like to share the second lesson I learned when the giant robotic bugs took over the world: children’s TV networks are not news networks.
Despite the name, your Facebook news feed is not actually news at all. The vast majority of the information is simply wrong, and opinions are thrown about with no regard to facts or evidence. Just as it would be ridiculous for me to continue getting my news from kid’s TV networks, those of you repeatedly being fooled by Facebook facts and statements with no source should know better.