Are you a responsible consumer of media? Do you participate in the social sharing of facts or do you just jump on the latest media frenzy bandwagon?
Observing the recent media uproar of Miki Agrawal has got me thinking about how much our society loves to cheer on the underdog on their way up, and then delight in tearing the person down. Often this happens once they pass a certain point of success and fame. Coincidence? Perhaps we do this because subconsciously it gives us a way of connecting and relating to one another. Perhaps showing that we support the trending story du jour makes us feel like we belong. Perhaps it’s ‘crab mentality’ – a way of seeing the world as a zero sum game.
Since the stories on Miki started to circulate, I’ve seen people on my Facebook feed share the articles with strong opinions on her and the situation, almost on the verge of bullying. This post is not about Miki personally (I do not know her well), her company policies or if the articles about her leadership were right or wrong. It’s about how we consume and spread media in this media landscape that has changed drastically.
There are the ones who create content and there are the ones who share content. You can be both, and both sides are necessary to make it into the attention span of the masses. Today anyone and everyone is a publisher. Someone with absolutely no credibility or expertise can have significant influence and sway public opinion. Stories that are most sensational beat stories that are most factual, at least in social media algorithms. It’s so easy to post, click, like and share that we often do so mindlessly.
Many of us have become lazy in how we consume media – skimming through pieces, following what’s trending and sharing content as if they are gospel when we haven’t even taken the time to investigate and find out for ourselves if what is published is indeed true.
There have been many hashtag trends I’ve been tempted to join. After all, if all my friends are doing it, and I’d receive positive social media reinforcement if I joined the rally, then why not? Because it’s irresponsible. Unless I make the time to do research and feel that I have educated myself on the situation and facts, I don’t participate for the sake of participating. I also try to have compassion. I know too well how the media can misconstrue facts and take things out of context. It can happen to anyone, it can happen to you.
We have a responsibility to consume and share media in an active way, not as a passive bystander who just jumps on the latest hashtag news story; pretending to have an opinion when we’re just riding the wave. Before you click and share, dig a bit more. Question what is reported. Recognize click bait articles and tabloid journalism. And if you don’t have the time or energy to do this, then ask yourself if it’s responsible for you to share something that you actually don’t really know anything about. Because with every click and every share, you are contributing to the truth or feeding the media machine, which is making a lot of ad revenue off your clicks.
I do not doubt that Miki will come out of this just fine. By the time she’s launched her next world-changing company, we will already be on to the next person to vilify. And the cycles goes on…