Michael Cox wrote:I’ve just been engaged with someone on our local community group about this. I challenged them based on fear mongering towards vulnerable older people. Her response was to link to a single online newspaper article... from a region of the country over 200 miles away.
Gist of the article “local councillor warns of gangs of scammers targeting the vulnerable”.
Councillor in question quotes as her source “something I saw on Facebook said...”
This is a subset of what I see as perhaps the second or third or fourth greatest problem of our times: information hygiene and the increasing difficulty of maintaining it.
A lie, it is said, will travel a thousand miles while the truth is still putting its boots on.
In a highly-online world, this problem just keeps getting worse.
I don't have any grandiose solutions to offer. I only know that an increasing proportion of my available cognitive cycles is getting consumed with information hygiene tasks. Figuring out which sources to trust, reading skeptically, considering sourcing, avoiding clickbait headlines and photo clicktraps, pushing back against misinformation, that sort of thing.
I am sometimes tempted to despair, by the obvious fact that so many people seem to pay no attention whatsoever to their information hygiene. But I try to remain compassionate, too, because it's effortful and just hard
. I'm good at this sort of tasks and I've seen the problem grow from a handful of spam emails in my inbox (circa 1994) and periodic Nigerian Prince postal mail
scam attempts, to the overwhelming drink-from-a-dirty-firehose shitshow that it is today. If I'm overwhelmed, nobody's having an easy time of it.