Woke culture fuels fake news

Ashley Brooke Boyd | Cartoonist

In a time when everyone is fighting to be relevant, there are oftentimes tweets and posts about an environmental phenomena or international disaster with no context. These posts often use rhetoric like “No one is talking about this!” or “Why is everyone talking about celebrity drama when this is happening?” Yet these insubstantial posts practice what they abhor: promoting a culture clueless about contemporary issues.

You are not “woke” just because you have some key words in your social media content.

These days, Twitter and other social media platforms seem to be a place for people to post passionately about things that they aren’t really informed about. Perpetuating uninformed outrage or criticism over large, complicated issues sensationalizes those issues without any real public context or fact-based background.

Filling social media with news-related posts that aren’t rooted in fact or research, and instead based on hearsay, speculation or judgment, users are actually being counterproductive to informing the public correctly.

For example, Twitter was in an uproar over the Amazon fires, especially over the lack of news coverage. Users were criticizing the lack of outcry for the event in comparison to the large amount of coverage for the Notre Dame fire – calling out news outlets for not doing their jobs or judging the world population for not caring (publicly on social media or news).

Ironically, people attempting to take up the role of news outlets were spreading fake news. The photos that went viral — posted by celebrities such as Portuguese professional soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, American movie star Leonardo DiCaprio, American musician Madonna — were up to 30 years old.

Despite common belief, the fires were not a natural consequence of global warming but rather a product of deliberate, farmer-lit deforestation. Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has opened the Amazon for commercial exploitation.

The politics behind the Amazon fires is more complex than most news consumers take the time to read about. It is much easier to jump onto the noble cause of “climate change awareness” or “environmental conservation” than form a stance on the Brazilian president’s economic initiatives.

The only content creators qualified and trained to tackle such issues are the news organizations these angry posts target. The people who try to tell journalists how to better do their job are often unqualified to do so. With fake news outbreaks, as seen with the Amazon fires, it is questionable how many of the people criticizing the media even read it enough to have a basis for their complaints.

Also, posting outrageously on social media isn’t stopping any fires. The common practice of posting “news” on social media without actually looking into the full story does very little other than project a self-image of “wokeness.”

Do you actually care about the fires in the Amazon? Then do some research and investigate the full story so you can intellectually discuss or post about it. If you don’t care enough to learn about what you rage about, you really don’t care as much as you’d like people on the internet to think you do.

It is OK to not know everything, but at least be knowledgeable about the things you post about.

Take a moment to read a bit, or a lot, about a topic before tweeting about it.

Actually read the full article before sharing it because of the headline.

Rather than rallying behind a celebrity who seems to have radical, breaking-edge stances, lend an ear to the journalist who has been covering the topic for years.

If you are going to post about news on social media, get informed first and put it in context. It’s just good practice for communication.