Lately I’ve been swamped with posts and shares of information that seems mind-boggling to me. I try to tread lightly when it comes to published reports. I do my research, weigh the pros and cons and look at both sides, for the most part.
So, I’ve come up with my own personal list of things I look for when reading online information. Perhaps it will help, perhaps you think it’s hogwash…but the beauty of it all is that you get to decide on your own. And that’s a powerful tool to remember.
So here it is: How to Skim the Scum
1) Artwork – Not all sites that use artwork are full of beans, but generally speaking, if you need to paint up people as zombies and throw around Mr. Yuck stickers like they’re confetti, chances are your information isn’t necessarily scientifically true. If you’re claiming that some company is poisoning the world, and feel the need to post doctored photos, then I doubt your claims are fact-based. Emotion is a strong marketing tool, I get that. But I’d rather hear the facts and make my own decisions, thank you.
2) Don’t stat me to death – I am confident that by this day and age, there has been a study completed on just about everything. And you can find a report somewhere, paid by someone, that will prove just about everything. The key is to balance it all out. Find out what matters to you, check out reputable sources (not just what’s posted on Facebook) and make an educated decision. That means looking at the other side, not just discrediting it from the get-go.
3) Search your engine – The mystery of the search engine. It’s amazing, isn’t it? You type in anything, and the instant you hit enter, tons of information pops up. But it’s a lot to wade through…and not many people are selective in their retrieval of information. In fact, few people make it past the first page of results. But Google, or Bing, or wherever you get your search results from does not authenticate its sources, it simply provides them. Remember that.
4) You must read this now or you will die – I remember in school, one of the keys to test-taking was, “If they use the word ‘always,’ ‘never,’ ‘must,’ etc. chances are that’s not the correct answer.” Very few things in this world “always” happen. That’s the beauty of nature. Although fire and brimstone do well to sell print, and make for entertaining reads, the truth is usually somewhere complacently in the middle. And how boring is that?
5) It’s personal – Remember what you’re reading. And where it’s coming from. Is it a company blog, or a personal one? Are you reading one person’s story, or a generalization of operations at whole? If you feel compelled to comment, relate in the same way. You cannot put out a fire with gasoline, but you sure can make the sky light up! I’m sure you can think of a few recent social media nightmares that some big names have gone through.
All in all, just remember that the internet really truly is a powerful tool…and it puts facts and figures and statistics at our fingertips. But it puts it ALL there.