Hello and welcome back everyone! Although we currently live involuntarily through major historical events, I hope that you are all doing fine. As much as I would love to write about the beauty of life, the A-M-A-Z-I-N-G weather and as wonderful it would be to make one of you laugh, or at least smile a tiny bit, while reading this post, I want to address a slightly more serious topic. I will once more dedicate myself to our beloved social media platforms. However, this time it is not about reels, algorithms and addiction, but about the questions of how one can share information online responsibly and how to spread news through social media. If you want to become a journalist, you are most likely to go through educational training, which can last years. And even after such training, everything a journalist publishes is checked and peer-reviewed. Of course, for a reason: by sharing information with thousands and millions, journalists have great power. Over the last decades, Instagram, Facebook and Co. provided everyone using social media with similar power. It is as we all became journalists and publishers ourselves. However, power never goes without responsibility. No matter how many followers one has, what we post online matters! For this responsibility, it is crucial to develop good habits when posting news and sharing information.
#1 Don’t Be Fooled by Fake News
Before posting and sharing news, you should always check whether they are actually accurate and if the sources are trustworthy and reliable. Too often, something catches our attention, and with a few clicks, it is shared and circulates in the uncontrollable world of social media. You should always ask yourself before sharing if the news could not be manipulated, if they are confirmed by several, from each other independent, sources, if they could be exaggerated, misleading or sensational. Fact-checking is indispensable. Sharing something is often a decision made within seconds, but the responsibility it includes could need a little more attention. Never share news without questioning what you are actually about to share, how you want to share it and what you want to achieve by doing so.
#2 Spread Facts, not Fear
Social Media is a great tool to share information and news since they travel quickly and widely. People can profit from such a handy way of learning. However, many posts do not contain reliable facts but instead evoke strong feelings, especially fear. Fear easily leads to excessive demands and overstraining. Common sense is switched off, and people become more readily receptive to groups that offer simple solutions to complex questions. So rather than spreading fear, spread facts, knowledge and information about what can be done.
#3 Wording Matters
Before sharing, always make sure that your post is not controversial. Avoid sharing disruptive, generalising, simplifying, offensive or politically incorrect content. The wording always matters and should not be ignored. Always think twice before actually posting. Moreover, as much as we all like Memes and a good laugh, there are things one should simply not laugh about.
#4 While all of this Matters, your Mental Health Matters too
Lastly, and I think the headline here is pretty self-explaining, don’t forget to take care of yourself and your mental health. Especially in times of crisis, social media platforms are flooded by terrifying pictures and videos, impacting us more than maybe expected. It is not wrong to give yourself a social media break in such moments. This is not a matter of ignorance and nothing one has to feel guilty about.
Social Media is probably one of the things that have changed society the most. Besides all its pros and cons, it leaves us with power. It leaves us with the opportunity to raise our voice, unite, make sure that we are heard, show discontent, solidarity, spread awareness, and get involved. But since most of us are no journalists and nothing we share with the world is peer-reviewed, we must become more aware of how we use these opportunities. Do it responsibly. And now, please go outside and let the sun brighten your day!
Written by Elli Winetsdorfer