WHAT DO I BELIEVE IN A WORLD OF
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We live in a world where objective facts are less influential in shaping our ideas and beliefs than emotional appeals. This is fuelled by the rise of social media as a source of information, and often driven by political agendas and economic greed. But sometimes, fake news is not created with an obvious agenda. Often on social media, it is merely careless reporting that hasn’t been checked but which spreads quickly and widely, leading people to accept fiction as fact.
What the Church says...
Pope Francis in Christus Vivit (CV.89) warns us that:
“The proliferation of fake news is the expression of a culture that has lost its sense of truth and bends the facts to suit particular interests”.
But the Pope also underscores the importance of the web and social networks as “an extraordinary opportunity for dialogue, encounter and exchange between persons, as well as access to information and knowledge.
Moreover, the digital world is one of social and political engagement and active citizenship, and it can facilitate the circulation of independent information providing effective protection for the most vulnerable and publicising violations of their rights.”
What the Bible says...
“So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey” (Isaiah 59:14–15).
The prophet could be describing what happens in our society today.
The proclaimers of truth are shunned and abused. We cannot agree anymore on what the unchanging truths are, and there is no way to achieve agreement.
In a global village, connected digitally and confronting a rapid spread of misinformation, we need to be more wise and discerning than ever.
Under the guise of news, an attractive format and outrage discourse, fake news appeals to our emotions. However, we need to develop a personal system of defence for slowing down and filtering this information. The first important step is to sharpen your instinct of when a given piece of content is too good (or bad) to be true. If a story grabs your attention for any reason, slow down and look closer. Then, try to figure out where it comes from, and look for gaps in the story, or mismatches between its claims and its actual source. Do these steps regularly, then you can understand a story better, or — if somebody is telling that story maliciously or incompetently — you get deep enough to find the truth.
A prayer from Pope Francis
Lord, teach us to move beyond ourselves, and to set out in search of truth.
Teach us to go out and see, teach us to listen, not to entertain prejudices or draw hasty conclusions.
Teach us to go where no one else will go, to take the time needed to understand, to pay attention to the essentials, not to be distracted by the superfluous, to distinguish deceptive appearances from the truth.
Grant us the grace to recognise your dwelling places in our world and the honesty needed to tell others what we have seen.
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