Last week we were examining how people try to control our minds through fear, anger or outrage, and greed. Today we will look at how often-anonymous people in social media try to influence what we think and do.
I have a friend who gets almost all of his news from a prominent social media site. Sadly, much of the news that he chooses to click on is fake. They have provocative headlines that are designed to elicit fear, anger or outrage, or greed. One of his favorites are conspiracy theories, which mix fear and outrage. The problem is, whenever he clicks on one of these stories, the website remembers and generates more articles along that vein. So, he clicks on more, and more appear. In a sense, he is creating his own hall of mirrors. The sad thing is that these fake news articles are designed not only to get him to read more like them, but they are also created to influence how he votes, how he views certain ethnic groups, and how he becomes more ingrained in a certain world view. It's very sad.
Stay free of this. Do not click on articles that you can tell are appealing to your lower emotional centers. Check "facts" in these articles with Snopes.com or other fact-checking sites. Be objective.
Similarly, the non-anonymous talking heads on the daily news channels, especially the ones that run 24/7, use your base emotions to continue watching. Anger, fear and outrage are particularly common emotions that they elicit in order to keep you glued to the TV. After all, they are in the business of selling commercial time, and the longer you watch, the more commercials you will see. Of course, I am not saying that you should avoid being informed and watching the news, but be aware of how the different news organizations make you feel. Do you feel angry, afraid, or upset? Do those emotions make it hard for you to pull away from the TV? Or do you feel informed, where the news is presented in a logical, even-handed way? That is probably the better choice for getting your information.
We all make choices in how we stay informed in this world. By making wise choices, we can avoid the chance that we might come under someone's influence through the manipulation of our emotions. Be wise. Stay free.