Writer’s Block: Don’t let social media habits affect your opinion

Sports Reporter
Sam is the sports reporter for ABC Newspapers, covering high school, junior college and community sports in the area. He joined the staff in October 2016.


Remember when parents told their kids not to talk to strangers on the internet? If they didn’t recognize a website, don’t click on it? Do those golden rules still exist?

Sam Herder
Sam Herder

It seems the popular forewarning about the internet nowadays is “not everything you see is true.” It’s a good statement and (should be) quite obvious.

When it comes to social media, though, it’s sometimes easy to be brainwashed. It’s easy to get caught up on one side of the argument and before you know it, you’re saying “These folks have great points. I’m with them.”

Now, this isn’t a column about being misinformed or about “fake news” or “alternative facts.”

Steps to avoid that are quite simple:

1. Don’t share something without reading it.

2. If you do read something and don’t recognize the organization or website, go to the homepage and just look at the other headlines.

3. Find a journalist or a media organization you trust and get your news from them.

This column is about allowing facts to brainwash you. Fact are nice, sure. Facts are good, yes. But anyone can go to I’mRight.com, type in their argument and regurgitate facts at you.

Don’t let those people decide your opinion for you.

I don’t follow politics. But just the other day I saw someone share a story on Facebook from a credible website listing all the reasons why Barack Obama was one of the best presidents in United States history.

I clicked it, read it and thought, “Fair enough.”

A few hours later, someone I follow on Twitter posted a story with his own captain of “Worst. President. Over.” The headline of the link of another credible website was something along the lines of why Obama was the worst president ever.

I clicked it, read it and thought, “Fair enough.”

Each story was factually correct with plenty of statistics to support their argument. But too many people only see one of those stories and let it sway their opinion.

The same thing will happen in four years with Donald Trump. He’ll do a lot of good things for this country and his supporters will highlight that. There will also be no shortage of messy situations and head-scratching quotes that his haters will store in their “I’m right” folders.

For sports fans, it’s the same thing. It’s the LeBron James versus Michael Jordan argument. Facts and statistics can make both sides of the arguments true. It’s just a matter of which side you want to be true.

I’m sure I can find 50 stats that support me if my argument is Allen Iverson is better than Kobe Bryant. The majority of basketball fans know that’s not true. But I bet I can convince someone who doesn’t follow the NBA that it is.

Don’t get me wrong, facts are 100 percent necessary when forming your opinion. It’s just mind-boggling how people use facts to bob and weave their way through other facts to sucker people into believing them.

An example of this can be summed up in a Bill Burr stand-up comedy bit. Person A doesn’t want to snorkeling in the middle of the ocean because he doesn’t want to get eaten by a shark. Person B says “Actually facts show most shark attacks happen near the coast.” Person B responds “No (expletive), that’s where all the people are.”

Facts are facts. They’re the only way to support an argument. But if you are looking up information to determine, for example, what side of the Dakota Access Pipeline argument you’re on, one article by Rob Port shouldn’t determine your opinion. One visit to the “NO DAPL waters protectors” Facebook group shouldn’t determine your opinion.

Do more research and decide which facts from both sides are closest to your beliefs and morals.

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