Some Advice For My Friends Who Are Spending Every Day Frantically Posting Anti-Trump Links– And For Everyone Else Sharing Information On The Internet Too

War News from Mexico (1848) by Richard Caton Woodville

Our human minds crave logical completeness. We want everything to fit into a tidy explanatory map. We also have a natural fascination with the sensational and controversial. We are drawn to reports of misdeeds or misfortune. We love to expose conspiracies, dirty secrets, and gossip.

It is easy to get emotionally drunk on outrage and anger. We can be so inebriated on indignation that our vision becomes distorted and we become sloppy about information.

My advice to you is to slow down. Be wary of information that appeals to that natural affinity for the sensational and sordid. Avoid jumping to hasty conclusions.

Reality is messy and complex. Initial reports and impressions are usually incomplete or inaccurate. Be circumspect about information that confirms your worst fears or that fits too easily into a logical narrative or that seems to provide an easy, satisfying, comprehensive explanation.

You should be initially suspicious of information that stokes your sense of outrage and indignation. Outrage and indignation should always be complemented by accuracy, precision, truth, and constraint.

I have found that a prudent approach is to choose to resist the impulse to immediately share anything that piques an emotional response or that you would normally share to support your point of view.

Consider using a bookmarking service to save links that you want to share on social media. (I use https://getpocket.com) Resist the urge to immediately click the share button and bookmark it instead. Then sit on bookmarked links for a while; wait a few days or even a few weeks before returning to them to evaluate if they are still worth sharing.

In the meantime, make an effort to learn more about the topic. Purposefully seek out some contrary points of view. Watch to see what other information comes out. Bookmark related articles. By the end of your waiting period, you will have a collection of links on the topic. You will then be able to decide whether to share the link or not. You might choose to share one of the other articles that you found instead.

This delay between your initial reaction to information and sharing it is contrary to both our natural impulses and to the viral information dynamics of social media and the internet. It requires self-discipline to temper our natural inclination to binge on emotion generated by scandalous and sensational information.

I have been trying to do this for a number of years now, and though I have done it imperfectly, I feel that it has improved my social media interactions and my life. I recommend it to you as well.

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