It's Election Season. Save Yourself.

Jaci Clement CEO & Executive Director, Fair Media Council

Jaci Clement

photo by Bob Giglione

If there’s one thing we’ve learned since 2016, it’s this: There’s no effective way to stop disinformation from flooding our online world. 

The best we can do, it seems, is to prepare for the impending downpour, and we seem to be failing pretty miserably in the bucket-and-sandbag department, too: A new study reveals the winners of this election season thus far are the false content producers and the manipulators that publish false content. See for yourself, the numbers that tell the tale of our bad behavior are staggering. (And props to friend Greg Galant at Muck Rack for drawing our attention to this study.)

What now?

The truth is all indicators point toward taking a sabbatical from social media as the surest way to help salvage what’s left of our democracy. That’s not to say that America was perfect prior to the advent of the world wide web. It’s just that humans needed less media training and fewer tech skills to deal with daily life. What life since 2016 has revealed to us is the true weapon of mass destruction has been the internet. Funny how no one thought to look there. OK, not funny. 

If a sabbatical from social is out of the realm of your reality, at least approach your computer time with a plan. Focus your searches to find specific information. Limit the amount of time you’re spending on social channels, and consider muting the friends in your feed who always have a political opinion but never any of the facts. (They won’t know you’ve done it, and it only lasts for 30 days.) Check the source of the news you are reading online — not the website you got it from, but the actual article source. Lots of people get their news from news aggregators like Yahoo and Google, but the sources of the news stories aren’t Yahoo or Google — neither of those outlets creates news. They simply deliver it to you from other sources. 

Stick with the Devil(s) You Know

Now is not the time to introduce new news sources into your life that you haven’t fully vetted. Too many are false news producers and you can expect new ones to pop up faster than Quibi crashed as we get closer to the election. Also, remember to pay strong attention to your local news sources — you know them well — which are focused on giving you news of the elections that will impact you most directly. They often get overlooked in major election cycles, but they are of equal import.

One of the more interesting trends happening in the news media this election is the undue amount of analysis focused on news that’s yet to happen. Just ignore it, no matter where it’s coming from.

Your mind, your time, and your vote are too important to waste on falsehoods and illusions.

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