Monday, November 14, 2016

The World at Our Fingertips

Rachel Sinistro
photo via Flickr

"The Telephone Game"

Rumors may travel fast by word of mouth, but this is nothing compared to the speed of rumors on social media. We are living in a society where news and gossip travels ridiculously fast. Gone are the days when we relied on the news to find out the latest trending topic. Now, all we have to do is pull out our phones and do a quick scroll through our Twitter feed to see all of the latest updates on the world. It is truly amazing that we have the world at our fingertips, and social media certainly does have a way of making it seem that we are connected to the rest of the world in an oddly personal way. There are, however, some frightening downfalls to this speedy delivery of information.

Scary Fast

Even just on a college campus, the way that news travels through social media is astonishing. There is no doubt that every tragedy, party foul, or new discovery at Ohio University is going to be posted onto some social media outlet at some point in time. Through retweets, likes, favorites, and whatever else, these posts will then be spread to hundreds, maybe even thousands of people. Then, before you know it, the video of some guy jumping off of a roof at Ohio University’s Halloween has over 400K retweets and people on the other side of the country are viewing it. Not to mention, this all happens in less than 24 hours. Now that is scary fast. However, to the generation of extensive social media users like us, this seems completely normal. It’s all fun and games when a video like this goes viral, but what if it is news that could immensely affect our lives that is being bounced around like a beach ball?

The Joke’s Over

When it comes to important worldly news, speed can often get in the way of accuracy. Small fabrications on social media may not mean much too us, but in an era where news outlets are sometimes using these postings as leads to stories this information this can be very detrimental. This is when reporters have to truly decide if the invigorating feeling of being the first to release news to the public overrides taking the time to thoroughly fact check.

Who’s at Stake?

If you’re an active social media user, you probably will read multiple things a day that are not entirely true. This makes it very important that as a society we have credible news outlets that we can count on for fact checking when we see that tweet or Facebook post that just doesn’t seem quite right. In order to have these credible news outlets, we need reporters who are choosing accuracy over speed. Today we do thrive on quickly delivered news, but if someone sees news that they truly care about they most likely will be looking at more than one outlet to make sure that they are getting accurate information. For the sake of putting society’s puzzled minds at ease, journalists will forever have an obligation to ethically report the news even if it is secondhand news.

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