Column: Time to stop sharing social media’s myths

When did we lose our common sense?

There now follows a plea to everyone on social media sharing myths and fake news. Gonnae no. Just gonnae stop.When did we lose the power of common sense? What happened to our ability to sniff out nonsense?

Social media has turned our brains to mush, blurred opinions with facts, and, more damagingly, it has created a never -ending cycle of rubbish.

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And the more we share it, the more credence it gets, and the more stress it causes. It stokes our deepest fears in the darkests of times.

The solution is simple.Stop sharing.

Take responsibility for the utter guff you endorse by hitting that share button or re-tweet on Twitter.

We used to laugh at the tinfoil hat brigade who peddled bonkers conspiracy theories such as 5G is responsible for coronavirus. The same folk told us people chalked an ‘x’ on front gates so dog-snatchers knew which homes to target to steal wee Fido the pedigree poodle.

Now we give them credence by sharing, and even commenting on their crackpot theories.

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And in times of crisis, they rise earlier than everyone else to set the ball rolling and dominate the social media news agenda.

It’s exhausting trying to shut them out. It’s a bit like that arcade game at the Links Market where you have to try to anticipate which figure will pop up and whack it before it disappears again.

We really shouldn’t be wasting energy on this rubbish, but we have to because people start to believe it as it nestles in the mainstream.

Last week’s outrage was “MPs award themselves £10,000 pay rise.”

No, they didn’t.

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The money was to help their office staff work from home. That might have been buying a desk and chair, sorting out the comms system, and also ensuring their online activity remained secure. At no time did it mean the politicians trousered ten grand, but the outrage came wave after wave, and still continues.

And just as we crawled, exhausted, from trying to halt that tide, up popped some senior police officers with another nugget that falls into the “well, it could be true y’know” category.

First up, Nick Adderley, Chief Constable in Northampton who said – and I quote – “we will not at this stage be starting to marshal supermarkets and check-in the items in baskets and trolleys to see whether it is a legitimate necessary item but...if people do not head the warnings...we will start to do that.”

Cambridge Police then tweeted their officers had popped into a local Tesco to check social distancing was being adhered to Allan Crow– good to hear – but then added: “Good to see the non-essential aisles were empty. “

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No such definitive list exists and it’d be impossible to enforce – and in even mentioning it, they undermine the good work and common sense approach of officers across the UK.’

Chatting to a police officer last night, he burst out laughing at the suggestion he’d be having a poke in anyone’s messages any time soon.

So a plea. Stop, think, and check before sharing this risible nonsense.

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