On this day and age of fast and constant information, news and important facts tend to get diluted. After all, most people turn to Facebook for news, scrolling through their feed and clicking on whatever bit of news interests them. Of course, there are positives to this new way of getting information. News travels a lot faster and is more accessible. People can do research on almost any topic by just sliding open their phone and pull up the internet. This information can be accessed at one’s own pace, convenience and frequency.
But this overload of information does come at a cost.
How often have you seen very serious claims plastered on a funny picture and shared by “official” Facebook pages? How many times during this election cycle, during this past week even, did you see news in the form of a meme?
We have nothing against memes. For the most part, we like to think the majority of society has a pretty good grasp of what’s a joke and what they are actually basing their political opinions and views on. But there’s a good share of the population out there — on both sides of the political spectrum, mind you — that must think just because there are words on an image on the internet, it must be true.
This isn’t a problem exclusive to the younger generation who grew up with the internet. This is a problem older people suffer from, too.
Some will argue that news in meme form is useful. You can get a lot of information across in a single image. It’s easy to spread, market and make people quickly aware of a problem.
The issue is that for a lot of people, this is enough. They don’t question it. They don’t do any further research. They see a captivating image on the screen that could say something as outlandish as “President Donald Trump bans all immigrants” or “Hollywood hates America” or “Rosemary increases memory by 75 percent” and immediately accept it or reject it, depending on whether it aligns with their current belief system. This isn’t constructive or informative. No one was ever convinced to change their beliefs based on a meme — if anything, it further polarizes each side.
The fact is the world is more complex than simple text on images.
No argument can be watered down to one sentence. There are nuances. There are complexities. There are exceptions. We need to read, watch the news and do our own research.
Before you look at a political meme someone has shared and decide to accept its information, look it up. Is it really true? Or is that slightly sketchy page that shared it just making things up for likes? Contrary to what some might argue, credible news sources don’t make things up. It’s the pages designed solely to get clicks and likes that skew headlines. If it’s inflammatory and sounds simple, then hey, people will click on it and share it.
If you are going to share a political meme, write a researched post to go along with it or share a relevant article from a credible source. Memes can be good things. They are eye-catching after all. Just make sure the information you are conveying is factual.
At the end of the day, think about what information you are accepting and what you are giving out. And make sure it’s correct.