Diary of a New Age Girl

Chapter 9

Fake News

-Varudhini

 

Bubonic plague confirmed in Mongolia and China. You might have seen headlines like this in the news recently, but what does it really mean? Do we have to deal with another coronavirus-type pandemic?

It’s easy to view what’s on the screen in front of you and believe it blindly. But if there is anything I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older, it’s to fact check. Always. Not only when you think the information is wrong, but even when you think it might be correct. The truth is, news is a business. Their job is to sell the breaking news to you and get you to keep watching and reading. It’s a transactional relationship. The issue with this, of course, is that catastrophic events don’t happen every day. We know that, but the media will sometimes tell you otherwise.

Let’s break down the reasons why this specific post is really good at grabbing your attention as a typical consumer of CNN. “Chinese authorities” is a really intimidating phrase because China is a global superpower known for the cruel ways of its authoritarian government. It gives you a bad feeling before your eyes even hit “bubonic plague”. Upon reading these words, you’re left to wonder: Is this really the plague? The one that killed one third of the population of Europe in the 1300s?

So then you’re walking around thinking that 50 million people are going to die again, and that 2020 really is the worst year of your life. However, reading this article will make it obvious that some of the details are being glossed over.

The plague actually comes back every year. Terrifying at first thought, but remember that human medicine has come a long way since the 1300s. We didn’t even have microscopes back then. But today we have created vaccines for most of the major diseases that killed millions in the past. And if the plague is treated with its vaccine in time, it is curable. It is not nearly as much of an issue as COVID-19 is. 

If you read the article, it will tell you exactly that. But it is “clickbait”, made for you to click on to find out if the title is true. Many people will simply read the title and be misconstrued. One simple Google search dispels the notion of the Black Death coming back in a deadly way, yet I have seen so many people post on social media about it. This is how misinformation spreads. 

I know that Gen Z and millennials like to be informed about the world around them. But on the internet, it’s easy to make things seem different. Being aware of the biases of media, understanding the political leanings of organizations, and doing your research is your path to the truth. Not the easiest path, but the one we must all dedicate ourselves to instead of irresponsibly spreading information that may or may not be true.

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