By Steve Carne, Jul 27 2018 12:51PM
Steven Carne reflects on the value of fact-checking.
After a respite of over a month from social media (to save my sanity frankly) and returning to it recently with some reluctance, it is even more evident that this modern communication tool is both a blessing and a curse. It's mentally exhausting, it's time consuming and (no hyperbole here) dangerous because raging and ranting posts become a fractious battleground full of “echo chambers” and “hate speech”.
We push the panic button too quickly when we respond with knee-jerk reactions to yet more new morsels of outrage. We want action. And we want it quick. That's what we do as campaigners right?
But what if half the news and information can’t be trusted?
I've come to realise that knee-jerk reactions and sharing posts without reading them properly and fact-checking, in the long term, don't actually produce much of an outcome that helps us.
"Show'n'tell" is better than "shout'n'yell".
So what good is social media now?
Well it is still good for sharing our information updates with one another, providing useful and trustworthy evidence - if it IS useful and trustworthy.
Therein lies the rub.
It's vital at this stage in the campaign that we pay attention to the details. Not to get bogged down with them but to understand and find better ways of fighting them. If we’re armed with truthful evidence it becomes much harder for local councils, CCG members, STP Board members, hospital CEOs, and health media to dodge the truth. It also makes it harder for them to spin...
Why factual accuracy matters
If the stories we share aren’t accurate, we’re going to be running off fighting shadows and windmills, like the deluded Don Quixote.
And then it’s easy for unfriendly politicians, the government’s NHS quangos and Uncle Tom Cobbley Thinktank and all to dismiss us as passionate, misguided know-nothings. They like to pull that trigger as often as possible. So let’s not hand them easy ammunition.
Just get people angry
I was a member of that school when I first began campaigning. It didn't matter if I didn't get all the facts right as long as it got members of the public riled enough to rise up and join the fight. Yeah well that hasn't exactly happened and there's no immediate sign of the general populace taking to the streets with pitchforks and fire. So all our posts indeed become “sound and fury signifying nothing”.
They're not responding to our anger and outrage and (honestly) they're probably not even hearing it as the algorithms of silicon valley whizzkids divide and rule the united mass messaging we all so desperately hunger for.
That's why it’s vital we at least share with each other truthful and accurate information. I tell myself now "take a deep breath,do a little digging". If we check the facts before sharing and be in a better position to add our voices as a positive weapon not distracting with passion and rage. And armed with true facts we can throw big spanners into the works.
Our new page under our NHS4ALL campaign is all about helping us to think straight when so much “spin” is coming at us from all directions. We've had a think about how to protect ourselves from the Windmill Effect. And how best to check our facts...