It used to be that we could trust the information that we were receiving, and that if someone said that that they’d read an article about a pandemic, voting, race relations, etc., we could have a reasonable belief that the article was based upon fact.
But then the internet was invented and gone were the conventional norms of someone having to submit something, get it edited, and then published. Suddenly anyone could write an article or social media post and label it as factual. The person behind the latest thing you read could be anyone from a Nobel Laureate to middle school student.
Either way, it is important we do our due diligence. With pocket-sized computers that can access a world of information within seconds, we no longer have an excuse for gross ignorance. We must embrace our personal responsibility and scrutinize the information or disinformation that we are seeing and/or hearing. We can’t rely on someone else to fact check everything.
Just last week, my grandma was appalled, because someone told her that they were letting sixteen year-olds register to vote. (Fact check: Partially true. In some states, sixteen year-olds can pre-register, but they cannot vote until they are 18.)
Personal responsibility extends beyond the information we are digesting. It also extends to our actions. I could have responded to my grandma’s assertion any number of ways (frustration, anger, amusement, just to name a few), but I paused and realized that she was sincerely worried about the prospect of local governments allowing young people to illegally vote. Instead of dismissing her fears, I guided her to the rules on voting and pointed her to the aforementioned facts surrounding certain states allowing sixteen year-olds to pre-register.
Due to our country’s growing political differences and opinions, our patience is, understandingly, beginning to run this. Just like we don’t have to trust everything we hear or learn, we don’t have to react in a way that is not conducive to creating a dialogue. We can also walk away when things become toxic, harmful, or dangerous.
Whatever path we choose, it’s important to remember that we have the power choose it.