Fake News Redux

Or should that be Faux News Redoe?

It’s late; I’m trying to be cute. My apologies.

Today I’m revisiting the post I did two weeks ago.  Here it is again if you missed it: A Look At Fake News

This list, which I included in that post, isn’t bad.  It’s been replicated many, many times, both before and after that Huffington Post story from which I got it.  All good points to keep in mind; I don’t disagree with any of them.  But there needs to be something more.  AND THERE IS.


from the Huffington Post


I’m of the opinion that most of us don’t think we need to check out the stories we like. We like to think that “Others” get caught up in fake news, urban legends, rumors, conspiracy theories. We are smarter than that.

Well, guess what! We’re not.

I’m going to suggest there is only ONE thing we need keep in mind as we read through our newspapers, listen to the TV or radio news, and surf across social media — what stories evoke a strong reaction?  I don’t mean the happy Kodak Camera stories; I mean the stories that confirm our beliefs, validate us, and  remind us we know what we’re talking about (we like them) OR the ones we really hate, the ones that make us angry.

Take a look at this photo I recently posted, both to my Facebook Profile page and here last week. You’ll probably recognize it.



It was the end of Daylight Saving Time and I just couldn’t let it go by without some mention of it.

If it weren’t so amusing, some could consider this an example of fake news. Ignoring those folks for the time being, I’m using this image to make a point. No really strong emotion with it, right? Maybe a chuckle (at most). A smile?  It’s satire and it works. And we then forget it and move on.

It’s those news stories, or rumors, or alternative-to-science theories that leave us with a strong emotion — whether it’s glee that you’ve been validated or fury that something so bizarre has taken hold —  that we need to be wary of.  That, to me, is …


Thanks to commons.wikipedia.org


… a red flag.

They are the stories we are least likely to check out. And I’m not just talking politics here.

Are you an anti-vaccinator?  Do you think the moon landing was staged?  Are you skeptical of holocaust stories?

If we like the story, the theory, we’ll most likely share it on our own social media sites or repeat to anyone within earshot. If we don’t, they’ll be the ones we’ll disregard. Veracity, legitimacy has no bearing at the time.

Remember this?

Yup, I fell for this one too.

I never checked this out before I shared on Facebook. After all, it made sense; it fit into my world view of this man who has been in the background of my life since college in New York City. He was ALWAYS in the newspapers even back then. Mostly for the women in his life, as I recall.  He was all glitter and fluff and I NEVER, EVER would have imagined he’d be where he is today. Frankly, I still can’t believe it.

This meme validated my belief system so I grabbed it. (In case you’ve not yet heard, no one has been able to verify he ever said this, certainly not to People Magazine in 1998.)

I committed the sin we are all bemoaning today. It happens; we are human. (To be clear, this is not a post about the intentional misinformation campaigns that are also of significant concern.)

I certainly never gave a thought to the steps on that list above, even though I’d learned them years ago.  Nor would I check the following Internet sites that readers have suggested for fact checking the news (in alpha order):

IFCN (International Fact Checking Network at Poynter)

The more I thought about this, the more it appeared that we needed to have a ONE STEP, sure-fire way to know if something needs to be checked out:

Did the story (the site, the meme, the headline) leave you with an intense emotion?

Anger? Rage?  Glee? (Glee is the one I most often fall for.)

Remember this meme from Facebook during the 2016 campaign?



I grabbed this one and shared it quickly. I liked it. It made me laugh. I wanted to have others laugh with me.

That was before I woke up and realized that we need these folks, they are “US” too. “There but for . . .” fits.

It’s so easy to point a finger, too easy to laugh at jokes that separate us from “THOSE OTHERS,” too easy to latch onto theories that fit our world view, regardless of their veracity.

I’ll say more about this as I get closer to releasing LEAPFROG, my acronym for “How to hold a civil conversation in an uncivil era.”   Don’t forget, my subscribers will be getting a free eBook, so do subscribe if you’ve not already done so.

For now, I hope you’ll share one of your stories of getting caught up, perhaps sharing a story that, in hindsight, you wish you hadn’t. 

Next week we’ll look anew at ….  (do drop by and find out).

18 Responses

  1. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    Check the source is my manta – always. I’m SO disheartened by the divisiveness in our country, in part caused perhaps by people’s lack of discretion in curating the news they hear.

    On another note: While you visited fake news again this week, I revisited the time change in mine and quoted you (with links) to the well-researched posts you published a while ago.
    Marian Beaman recently posted…Time Flies and You are the PilotMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Discretion. Yes, Marian. Good word. Thanks for carrying on the cause on your blog— the DST curse, as I’m starting to call it. Even I was getting a bit weary of my rants.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Fake News ReduxMy Profile

  2. Laurie Buchanan
    | Reply

    Janet — I agree that CHECKING THE SOURCE and DISCRETION are important ingredients to not falling for, or accidentally promoting, fake news.
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted…Feng ShuiMy Profile

  3. Tim Fearnside
    | Reply

    An important topic. I find it incredibly frustrating how certain factions have co-opted the term “fake news” to mean “actual news” which they don’t want people to believe. (And even more frustrating how well this tactic has seemingly worked). But, I digress a bit . . . I agree it’s important to be highly vigilant these days when it comes to sourcing. A related issue (and probably more applicable to my own experience) is how easy it is to get sucked into a news “bubble,” wherein, even if the sources are all legitimate, the effect can produce a sort of myopia.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Indeed Tim. There were many ways to digress I found. It’s a multilayered issue, seems to be. Epistemology never made more sense.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Fake News ReduxMy Profile

  4. Janet Morrison
    | Reply

    Janet, I’m afraid I’m guilty, too. Great blog post! Made me stop and think.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thank you for that, Janet. I’m taking more long slow breaths lately. 🙂
      Janet Givens recently posted…Fake News ReduxMy Profile

  5. Ally Bean
    | Reply

    I’m inclined to double check everything I read before passing it on, if I do at all. I’ve found that AllSides.com is a good way to approach daily news story. They offer a variety of legit sources and tell you the slant of the article before you read it. Helps me feel like I might be on top of things.
    Ally Bean recently posted…Voting With The Presbyterians: A Conversation About How To Get ThereMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I include AllSides.com in my Resources list at the end of my soon to be out LEAPFROG. My only reserve is what they dub Moderate (or even Liberal on occasion) I find Conservative. I can’t quite get a full handle on where their biases lie. Still, it’s a useful source, with that one caveat. Thanks.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Fake News ReduxMy Profile

  6. Joan Z Rough
    | Reply

    You’re right of course. We are them and they are us. We humans make up stories every minute of every day and that is what so frequently causes our anger and passion, too often causing a lot of suffering.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I love how you phrased this Joan; your inner writer is alive and well. Thanks for adding to the pot.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Fake News ReduxMy Profile

  7. Susan Jackson
    | Reply

    Some times when I check them out I am not even sure I believe the answer so best leaving it where it is—that is what i am trying to do

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Sometimes it’s hard to know who or what to believe. That’s when I go back to basics. Thanks for adding your thoughts here, Susan.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Fake News ReduxMy Profile

  8. Pamela
    | Reply

    Oh dear. And I laughed out loud at your last cartoon of the ‘deplorable.’ Sorry, because it was mean and yet, because as you explained so well, I responded to my feelings of the deplorables who voted for the man-who-bullies. But if we don’t open our minds and hearts to those we don’t understand, we’re no better than the bullies.
    That said, if I don’t have time to fact check, I don’t read a political meme or horrific story or quote. I go in my little room and meditate. Sometimes I wonder if sending out peace may be the only hope for this world.
    Pamela recently posted…Neck StretchingMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks for that, Pamela. It’s always nice to feel validated. I resonate with your sending out Peace as the hope for a new world. It can’t hurt. I’m hoping that voting also still helps. 🙂 Virginia gives me hope.

      “ But if we don’t open our minds and hearts to those we don’t understand, we’re no better than the bullies.”. Thanks for that. You’re right on. Cheers.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Fake News ReduxMy Profile

  9. Gael Mueller
    | Reply

    I thought as I was reading this that I should check the sources of some of the sites that I visit. I assume that they have checked their source and that is a BAD assumption. Check everyone’s sources. It just might not be true.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hello Gael. Welcome; it’s been awhile. It’s hard for most of us I think to take that extra step. If you do, good for you. Being conscientious though, knowing how easy it is to be duped, that’s the first step, and often a big one. Thanks for stopping by.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Fake News ReduxMy Profile

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