*sigh* Yet again I found myself, after presenting a position and supporting facts, confronted with two words now used to shut down civilized discussion. Fake news. Two words now given immense power by our president and his supporters. Two words capable of tossing any thought causing cognitive dissonance to the wayside. These two words appear to now form the foundation of an attack directly on the 1st Amendment. Time and time again when arguments causing discomfort enter conversation, those feeling attacked wrap themselves in a security blanket of these two words all while feeling they have the moral and intellectual high ground.
Finding ourselves in a world where logical and rational conversation can fall to just two words, what do we do?
Let me properly rephrase, after our internal expletive laden tirade, what do we do?
Sadly there is no clear and obvious answer, no silver bullet, no magic potion. You can however bring certain techniques to the table which then allow responses that are, hopefully, productive in further engaging the conversation.
- Be informed. You must not only arm yourself with information on your topics, but do so through sources overwhelmingly accepted as ethical, accurate, and reviewed. You must show you are not simply presenting opinion, but thought backed and supported with multiple layers of fact. Linked below are articles to assist in identifying a few of these sources.
- Stick to your statement, values, morals, ethics, and beliefs. You cannot allow perception of “wishy-washy” in your points or general stance on topics. Avoid any appearance of the dreaded flip-flop.
- Use humor, be funny. Accusations of fake news look to place the bad-guy role on those presenting the information. Refuse responsibility for it and return with humor. Take the facts and create a funny narrative around them. You need not be a comedian for humor to make a point (OMG … a Liberal).
- Condemn the accusation (use sparingly). When you are clearly, and I mean with a crystal clarity supported by an overwhelming factual and social majority, simply condemn the fake news accusation by showing that majority.
- Ignore them. Not every battle deserves your time, energy, and effort. Some are so dependent on their cognitive safety net that your efforts achieve little. Your sanity and exhaustion simply will not always achieve positive results.
- Perhaps most important, if actually proven wrong with arguments beyond “fake news”, graciously accept it. Acknowledge your inaccurate information, adjust your position, and be the example for others on both sides of the battle.
Today entering discussion with facts does not on its own facilitate the making of a point. Should your point prove counter to the feelings of others you can, and likely will, face the fake news demon. This tactic distracts from the point, gains momentum with dissenters quickly, and leads easily to your frustration. Acceptance of this and practice of skills allows for you to defeat it!