The Need for Digital Literacy Skills

Fake News, Deceptive Ads, Propaganda

Matt and Ashley met up and recorded a socially-distanced podcast a few weeks ago.  Of course, the conversation turned to the overwhelming amount of fake news surrounding COVID-19.  But beyond fake news, there is a substantial problem in people’s ability to discern what is true and what is false information online.   In addition, meme culture creates, perpetuates, and reduces complex issues to binary choices. Many times, they break rules of logic and argumentation to further an agenda by inflaming the emotions of the audience.

And maybe this is why we are so tired!

The ongoing controversies: some credible, some created and some contrived keep coming at us and they demand our reaction.  Some experts have called this “crisis fatigue.”  The constant news and chaos emotionally exhaust people.

How does this happen?  Matt points to the clamor on social media as an example of constant controversies that appeal solely to emotion rather than logic or credibility.  The constant emotionally-driven demands to react will mentally drain someone anyone, but especially those who are actively on social media or receiving news from only partisan sources.

By developing digital literacy skills, one is prepared to filter these messages with a toolset that evaluates how the author is delivering their message.  Information can and should be evaluated by the author’s agenda, the accuracy of information, logical fallacies utilized and the method of persuasive appeal.

Only through developing digital literacy can one protect themselves against fake news, sensationalized content, reductionist memes, political ads, and ads masquerading as content.