Were you looking for a list of parenting behaviors that will damage your children? Or maybe you wanted to know more about how your favorite food is poisoning you and the Earth?
Well, too damn bad.
you have to listen to the crackpots.
Vacation pictures and engagement announcements come with chem trails and "How we're all parenting our kids into the grave" panic pieces. It's a package deal.
Sure, you can tailor your contact lists to keep some of the crazy out, but where's the fun in that?
There is an important lesson in modern literacy to be learned from the torrent of information spewing from your various feeds.
I talk about it a lot with my students.
When I was in college, the challenge of research was one of access. I had to go to a library or a newspaper for much of the information I needed to form a view or make an argument.
The one advantage to this was that the information I had access to was vetted for me. You can (and should) be critical of the institutions that did the vetting, but at least no one was trying to convince me that Congress had violated the 28th Amendment.
My students today face a very different challenge when researching. They can get a hold of all the information they want, but they need to learn how to tell the good from the... let's go with 'less good.'
They need to know the good from the less good.
My students need to create habits that make cross-checking and validation of claims feel like natural behaviors.
Social media is a great training ground for this.
When Jimmy Kimmel got everyone to believe that a woman set herself on fire while dancing, he was actually helping us learn an important kind of skepticism.
If a video has all the elements it needs to go viral, then it may have been constructed that way intentionally.
Or, when someone tells you to "watch out for black kids, because they're punching random strangers in the face." You might want to pause for a moment before filing that away as "valuable advice." Take a moment. Maybe even ask the person, "Really? In the face? Where is this happening? How often is it happening?" Those are the kinds of answers you need to assess whether on not there is enough risk to change your behavior.
Or, if a media outlet claims that a hyper-left-wing professor was abusing her power by spreading propaganda, you might want to take a look at what the professor actually did.
Or, if your friend wants you to stand up in opposition to the Common Core, you should probably attempt to understand what the Common Core actually is.
I would hate to see healthy skepticism turn into cynicism. I'm sure it does for people who feel they've been duped one too many times.
But if we accept that there isn't much of a filter on social media and we practice the act of filtering for ourselves, we're likely going to get better at sifting and winnowing through the sea of information that is a fixture of modern life.