‘Fake news,’ a frequently discussed topic lately, is troubling to consider. Too often, people faced with news from a variety of sources take things at face value- and react without pausing- usually siding with those holding similar biases. This can- and does- contribute to unnecessary tension, heightened reactions, and less-than favourable responses.
As we educate our girls, we recognize the importance of media literacy, of teaching them to be mindful when interacting with media that surrounds them constantly. We must ensure that our girls are taught- from an early age- to question sources from which they seek information.
I can’t help thinking, however, that with the increased pace at which we are all receiving information and the manner in which we are interconnected, being thoughtful and discerning is a lesson about which we all require reminders. The ‘new’ notion of fake news is actually an old issue, resurfacing as a result of online information, the fast pace of life, and a constant, flowing stream.
Perhaps the ‘old’ version of fake news was ‘gossip’ or ‘hearsay?’ Regardless- it is best counteracted with clear communication practices and parameters- applicable to everyone- not just our students.
We must all remember that the best way to determine truths- and ultimately enhance understanding- is by going directly to the source; we must engage in conversation in order that all perspectives are heard, and understood, and that assumptions can be clarified. It seems to me that, with so much online connection, we have forgotten how to challenge ourselves to have face-to-face conversations about complex issues, and we feel that ‘strength in numbers’ online is what will address what might be better dealt with in person, one-to-one.
We can all be critical of fake news as it is damaging, misleading and unproductive; however, let us all also acknowledge that the impact potential involvement with smaller scale hearsay can be equally as troublesome.
We have the capacity to counteract both, whether through larger scale media literacy, or through thoughtful, respectful approaches to communication. The key is for us to enact it.