Facebook, Twitter and the like are full of groups and individuals who use these mediums for fulfilling an age old dream – controlling people’s minds. These are highly intelligent and well educated people. Some are individuals who have nothing better to do, while others belong to some thought-groups or even government agencies.
We see many posts on the social media that follow a number of proven strategies to promote an idea or attempt to defame one. These posts are carefully crafted and well-timed (usually right after a catastrophe or an important event) to create maximum impact. To make matters worse, these writers present images, quotations, analysis and other references from carefully selected sources which suit their point of view rather than presenting both sides of the story.
What follows is a storm of replies, shares and likes that are a result of mindless clicking, making the post go viral. In a fraction of a moment, a hurricane is created out of a carefully crafted lie. Less than five percent of the readers have the time and the energy to actually investigate the sources to see if the information presented was accurate; less than half of them care to challenge even when they find out that it is otherwise.
It was much harder to create the same effect a decade ago when the only options to create the same effect were live gatherings or electronic media such as TV or radio. The Internet in general and the social media in particular has made the job easier. The sad part is that social media is dominated by young people, 14 to 25 year olds, who have less time and more energy. This acts like an accelerant to an already out of control fire.
There are plenty of bad examples in this world of people taking advantage of politics, religion and power. All that is needed is a few people with a little bit of knowledge, good writing skills and and a social media account and you can start a virtual war whose first casualties are innocent minds.
Bruce Springsteen once said “This is the 20th century. Blind faith in anything will get you killed.” So be careful where you put your faith. Be it your religious or political leaders, your teachers, your parents, free thinkers or scientists. This is the 21st century – there are more ways to go wrong than ever. But, we also have greater intelligence than ever. We should use it to be more aware of the facts before we commit ourselves to an idea that might lead us away from who we are.