How to cope with disinformation and dishonesty in the virtual world
“Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”
Michelle Obama, Becoming
And since our story is own, we need to be honest to it. We are living in a world where life is constantly evolving with the introduction and infusion of technology. If you look back and leaf through the pages of your memory you might find that you and your surrounding have completely changed since the last few decades, and rapidly. And the most important aspect of change is that, with it, all our beliefs and faiths change too.
If you ask a child what is honesty, the answer will be straight and simple. The lack of lie is honesty. But with time, when we grow up and our life changes, the simple definition of honesty changes with it too. Now, for an adult, honesty is a subjective matter. And often not necessary too.
Honesty and Its Relevance in Today’s World
Honesty is a great virtue. But have you ever asked yourself if honesty is relevant in today’s world or not? Well, as unfortunate as it is, this is a really important question that we all should ask ourselves time and again. Since our society and civilization have come a long way, our life has turned in a completely different and much complex direction with the introduction of technology, media, and social media. And just like any invention, these factors are also changing our beliefs too.
Now, when you are thinking of the concept of honesty and the right presentation of information, the definitions have changed completely. Now, it is the presentation that determines whether you are at the receiving end of the right information or not.
Media in Spreading Disinformation
“When anger trawls the internet, looking for a hook;
It’s time to disconnect, and go and read a book.”
Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet
We are never alone in this world of modern technology. Even when you are sitting in a room on your own, you are not alone. You are always clicking through different links on your laptop or swiping on your Smartphone. You are constantly clicking on different media apps, listening or reading the news. When you are following the news, it is difficult to say what you are listening to, truth or disinformation. There are many writers and thinkers who have aptly pointed out that media are constantly feeding on the anxiety and fear of people.
When you are going through all the breaking news and all the headlines of the news channels, it is obvious that you are constantly becoming anxious. When you are repeatedly watching the news on riots, accidents, killing, terrorism, and natural calamity, it is obvious that you will automatically feel fearful about the uncertainty of life. This fear triggers anxiety. And for the sake of TRP (Television Rating Point), all the news channels and media root on this anxiety of people. In fact, when it is a dull day in the newsroom, they make sure the screen never goes dull for you. And that is where the whole scenario of disinformation comes in the play. If a piece of information has been presented repeatedly with artificial urgency and it encourages anxiety, then it is undoubtedly disinformation which is disrupting your life in many unfathomable ways.
Social Media and Honesty
Since its inception till today, social media has come a long way. From just the platforms to connect with long lost friends to the platforms where you can connect your potential customers, social media has certainly come a long way. From morning to evening, if you scroll through the timeline constantly, you will always see the images and the posts of people around who are constantly putting happy pictures on Facebook and Instagram. This eventually makes you feel depressed when you end up pondering over all the imperfections of your life.
Now, think about it. Do you really believe that our lives are always pleasant? Well, the person you are seeing on Facebook smiling gloriously at the camera while spending time on a beach or on a mountain might be dealing with even bigger issues that probably you have no idea. The party animal you are seeing on social media is probably going to a shrink every weekend to deal with his or her depression. The problem with social media today is that we are constantly posing and pretending to be happy there while we are neglecting or ignoring to address our real issues. At the same time, our forced and artificial happiness and also making others feel down since they are failing to find constant happiness in their lives. This is where we as a society largely moving away from honesty. We are failing to be honest with others as well as with ourselves.
Coping with the Unfriendly World
“We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters… that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules… and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square.”
- Michelle Obama
Now, as a human being, you have emotions and that is why coping is necessary. You are not a machine that you will be able to zone out completely and keep the distractions and negativities aside. The burning question of the hour is how you can cope. Well, let’s think of your brain and mind as a computer with too many tabs open. Your mouse is hovering on one tab while you are trying to read from another. Two other tabs are loading as if since eternity. And from somewhere music is coming which you have no idea about. Completely messed up, right? What can you do now? Just turn it off for some time. Unplug. Reboot. Give yourself some time. Stay away from all these factors that are serving disinformation or not showing the real picture of the world. Just take a break.
Here, your subconscious mind comes to play. Affirm within yourself that you are not in control of these distractions. You are beyond that. You are fulfilled and don’t need the approval of the world in terms of like, comment or heart. You can filter your necessary information about the world. You don’t need to be glued constantly to the apps and news to know every facet of all the incidents.
Most importantly, spend your energy wisely. We wake up with a certain amount of energy. By engaging with distraction, we are wasting it constantly whereas we can spend it more productively. Just as famous Indian priest and thinker Dandapani has remarked, “Treat energy the same way you treat money. It’s a finite resource that needs to be wisely managed and invested.” Invest yourself in things that offer you a return that will enrich you as a human being. And most importantly, never give up. The best way to cope is to carry on.