It's happened to most of us... You hear something, you believe it, you repeat it, and then you find out it isn't true. And you either ignore the fact that you were wrong, or admit sheepishly you've made a mistake, or apologize to those who also believed (and possibly acted on) incorrect information that they received from you.
Ugh. Unfortunately in this era of fake news and clickbait headlines and the 24-hour news cycle, it seems to be happening more than ever before.
But that doesn't mean we all have to be a part of the problem.
When you read something outrageous, do a few minutes of searching to verify its validity before sharing it. If you can't verify it, then don't share it, don't repeat it, and don't believe it (even if it supports your worldview). Surely there will be something else outrageous that is true soon enough.
Be responsible about what you share. If you hear yourself starting to say something like, "I'm not sure if this is true or not, but..." you should probably stop yourself rather than contributing to the problem.
And when you're sharing something you do feel confident about, include information about when or where you learned it. For example...
"I read on Slate.com last night that the government has spent..."
"My friend Sally, who has a degree in Economics, told me that..."
"I checked Twitter myself and saw that Donald Trump tweeted..."
"I saw on three different channels this morning that the coach..."
Giving this additional information helps listeners put the information you're sharing into perspective and do their own follow-up research if they'd like.
Regardless of what side of the political debate, the gun debate, the abortion debate or any other debate you're on, there's plenty about which to be outraged. Will you join me in making sure we're getting the facts first? Then we'll be in a better position to find solutions. And we just might find we have more in common with the "other side" than we think.
Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash