Is Social Media Your News Channel?


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When I was kid, my parents listened to the radio during dinner to get an update about the “World News” and watch the news broadcast on TV at 7PM, everyday.
At the time, it was clear to me that what was said and shown on those channels was referred as “The News”… the authority.

Over 50 years later, the parameters to get the “Official news” have changed.
I still love to read the news of the world and, to do so, I use many digital sources to compare, evaluate and, eventually, have an opinion.
I have preferred news channels but I also enjoy checking the ones I dislike, just to get a flavour of “the other side”.

With social media so entrenched into people's lives, it becomes more difficult for everyone to be objective about the information they read. As social media allows one to “Follow” specific channels and news, the selection process contributes in removing objectivity and sways audiences in reading, believing and acting with a limited amount of information.

In a
Forbes article published this summer, the author highlights the fact that two thirds of the population under 25 years old in the US is using Instagram for getting news information rather than using “regular” news channels.

From a world view stand point, this is a very concerning phenomenon as more “freedom” for commenting is given to the world (social media comments, likes, shares) yet, the amount of information provides makes it more difficult to focus on what is “real” information versus “fake” or “manipulated” one to take into consideration.

Some would argue that all information is manipulated and I would tend to agree that there is some truth into it. After all, when you recount an event as simple as a birthday celebration, you will notice a different opinion as each person present at the party will focus on different people, set of events or selection of gifts. The only way to get a full picture about this specific event would be to talk to more than one person to have more opinions, more views.
That’s where the difficulty comes into play: with the amount of information provided to us every day, we cannot dedicate enough time (and energy) to validate all the elements of information available.
The era of Digital Consumerism
When searching about “Digital Consumerism”, most content found is about the fact that digitalisation is promoting higher consumerism, making goods and services so accessible that there is a paradigm shift of consumers using their time to shop, anytime, anywhere.

As much as we could think essentially of shopping, digital consumerism can be expanded to the amount of digital information we are using, day in, day out, to “keep up with society”.
This includes weather, your favourite discount website, the latest review on electronic devices and… the news!
In an interesting article on
lifehack.org, there is a discussion about how much stress and frustration is created by “consuming” news and highlights that “Americans spend 57 minutes a day consuming news sites and television networks, and 13 additional minutes daily in reading/watching news online”.
70 minutes a day might not feel like much but I surely hope those were used to compare notes.
Is Social Media really the place for daily news?
If one assumes that social media is practical because it allows creating a selection of information being streamed to an individual, then one might have a point in highlighting that daily news from social media is great but, on the other hand, it also gives all the tools to only see what one wants to see, rather than the “whole picture”.
What is real, what is “the reference” becomes difficult to evaluate. The real way to do it is getting more news from more sources in order to compare, evaluate and draw a call on what the real news are. Social media is not great at doing this… this is not social… this is media.
This requires time, energy, education and objectiveness… many of those come in small doses in a world of busyness, “efficiency” and stress.

As a reader of this short article, I am sure that you have an opinion and it might be very different from mine. I accept this but I would seriously ask a few questions:
  • Is it okay to be selective on the news that we read about or should one be more universal about content we access?
  • Is it okay to believe one source of information as being the “reference” in the world?

Just remember this next time a headline makes your head turn and take the time to read and compare.

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