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Social media trends breed ignorance

Published: Monday, February 3, 2014

Updated: Monday, February 3, 2014 19:02

Micah

Micah Christensen is a senior communication studies and political science major from Cheyenne, Wyo.

The word “trending” has evolved into what is in vogue on the conglomerate of social media.

It contains the fresh topics people are talking about, but sadly so much of what’s trending fails to be intelligent, discernable or even usable information.

A major obstacle to overcome is the computer-in-the-basement syndrome, brought on from people who rely on the buffer zone of computer-mediated conversations.

For example, a huge wave of commentators flew in like a flock of seagulls to drop their comments on Richard Sherman after his game.

After Sherman, a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, gave a spirited interview at the end of the NFC Championship game, social media exploded.

This spectacle sparked three straight days of trending, comments and unfortunately some hate.

It appeared you didn’t have to be a Seahawks, nor even a football fan, to get into the action.

Some commentators admitted to not watching the original interview before they jumped into the moshpit.

The debate over the appropriateness of his interview brought on heated and even racist remarks from commentators. And the discussion is still going on.

During the State of the Union Address, President Obama and his team utilized social media as a way to reach greater audience.

White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said, “This is to supplement the coverage,” but is not meant to be a substitute for it.

Unfortunately this did not stop the hundreds, if not thousands, of tweeters who had opinions about a speech they did not watch.

Twitter and other social media sites have given easy access to the spreading of opinions on the happenings of our world.

The problem is we have created a society full of self-proclaimed commentators who don’t take the time to actually understand what they are commenting about.

To compound this error, we have also relaxed our standards on sources for reliable information.

After all, how could we have a receptive audience for promoting our own opinions if we are harsh critics of our fellow blogger?
As a collegiate debater, I see this type of problem all the time.

When competitors use blogs as if they are peer reviewed journals, they undermine the credibility of their arguments.

Nothing makes me want to pass a particular policy more than having an 8th grader with no economic career or education as my solvency advocate.

There is still hope in a world of instant comments from an abyss of untrained commentators.

There is a need for education for both the commentators and those who will be responsible for sifting through endless loads of commentary.

As useless information spills out of cell phones and off of web pages there will be a greater demand for individuals with skills to digest it accurately.

There will also always be a demand for specialized and accurate information.

In the end, I hope you can at least see the irony in this humble comment.

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