OUR VIEW: Ignoring facts doesn’t change reality


artwork by Sydney Gonzales

  As it stands, wearing a mask is a guaranteed way to protect an individual amidst the current pandemic–unless it’s worn over the eyes metaphorically. Even in this critical point in human history, people still blindfold themselves from the world, refusing to accept simple facts which could help them. 

  The obvious solution would be to rip this blindfold off, the faces of the deceived, but the misinformation makes this strategy impossible. Instead, society must make an effort to slowly expose people to truth and give them motivation to care about others.

  In order to understand how this Herculean task, one must identify why people in modern society are so misinformed. The truth is that most people who hold false or misinformed beliefs aren’t naturally malicious or unintelligent, they’ve just been deceived. It doesn’t help that humans are defensive by nature, meaning people tend to get belligerent when their false beliefs are challenged. This creates a core problem that looms over modern society. 

  Manipulation is only further amplified by social media  which dominates lives. It’s ridiculously easy to log in to any social media site and see an endless stream of blatantly false garbage. The sheer influence of social media will make people believe the most outrageous of claims and concepts. This is where the “Facebook said it, so it must be true!” mentality originates. In this way, social media psychologically manipulates people. This type of online misinformation has real-world repercussions. When false information related to the severity COVID-19 spread across social media, it caused people to act recklessly and deny basic forms of safety such as masks, especially dangerous to populations more vulnerable to the disease. Misinformation such as this became so common that the World Health Organization declared that there was an “infodemic” happening alongside the pandemic.

  COVID-19 isn’t the only concept that social media information is trying to eliminate from the public consciousness. Climate change, election results, you name it, and social media has exploited it. 

 The spread of false information and denial of truth also has roots in the human habit to “cherry pick” information. For example, consider all of the people who cited COVID-19’s mortality rate as a reason not to worry about it. Although cherry-picked statistics such as that made COVID-19 seem more inconsequential at the time, it’s devastating in retrospect now that the disease has taken countless lives. Cherry-picking is also a dangerous tool that can be used by certain ideologies to motivate groups of people into condemning others for personal gain.

 People blind themselves to the truth because of the human tendency to cause polarization, constantly forming factions to turn any sort of dissent into an “us vs them” situation where citizens are deadlocked issues that require unity to solve. 

  The solution? Take a stand against misinformation. Don’t believe everything on the Internet. Personal responsibility includes having the ability to research and come to one’s own conclusions on topics rather than falling prey to those who wish to sow misinformation for personal or ideological gain. A vital part of this is gaining the ability to admit when one has said or believed something wrong. Being strong enough to admit that one is wrong is a courageous act. If we want facemasks to be a thing of the past, society must first take off the metaphorical blindfolds.