Since “communication” is literally in my company name, this is an especially frustrating time for me. What I wouldn’t give for some clear communication! SO much misinformation and conspiracy theories are circulating right now. I’m feeling like every expert and politician has an agenda – and the health and well-being of US citizens isn’t on any of them. Many times, their words do not match their actions. Every day they seem to ask us: are you going to believe me, or your lying eyes?
We are more polarized than many times in history. Each side thinks they’re right and the others with opposing views are spewing “alternative facts” or “fake news”. Where can we go for unbiased information?
- On news networks, know the difference between opinion shows and news coverage. Anything that is skewed one way or the other is likely an opinion show. Some networks are very open about their loyalties; others are very good at hiding the affiliations of the owners or parent companies.
- For social media, Snopes has been very reliable in separating real offers/stories/information from propaganda or scams. Typically, if you see an offer on social media that sounds too good to be true, check it with Snopes before you click on a link or share something. (On the other hand…shortly after this was published, one reader was kind enough to refer me to this Forbes article from 2016 about fact checking the fact checkers. Apparently nothing is as it seems!)
- Likewise, the BBB is a good place to check for information about local businesses. (Eastern Michigan chapter is in the link.) This is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensure an ethical marketplace and trustworthy businesses.
- For COVID-19 information: wish I had any idea. You might start with your own doctor. While they are likely not COVID-19 experts, they may have some advice that will work for your particular situation and health condition. Some states and communities also offer information without editorial like statistics and geographical information.
My biggest take-away through all this is to pay no attention to what politicians say and watch what they do. Pro life? Except when the economy is in jeopardy…then we’re okay with people dying. Campaigning on saving the environment? Check to see whether they voted to roll back all of the natural resource protections that have been put in place. Talk is cheap and plentiful; actions are verifiable.
Many are mistrusting medical experts as well. Are they affiliated with a pharmaceutical company? Is their agency funded by a particular organization that will benefit from their recommendations? Does that necessarily make it bad or fake information? It’s so hard to know what to believe. Getting as much information from a variety of sources may be confusing, but may give a more balanced view of any given situation.
If you are one that is loyal to a trusted source, it may make sense to follow some advice credited to Ronald Reagan: “trust but verify”. Words to live by today.
Barb Hendrickson is President of Visible Communication, LLC, President Emeritus of the Incentive Marketing Association and recipient of numerous Professional awards. Barb is a frequent speaker and trainer on Social Media, Storytelling, Using LinkedIn for Business, Incentives & Promotional Marketing and more.