This past week, the devastating crisis between Israel and Palestine has sparked conversation on all types of media platforms. While it is important to have these conversations and seek information on these issues, now more than ever we must check the quality of our sources.
On October 8th, I opened Tiktok to an endless string of videos about the Hamas attack on Israel. Short clips of news broadcasts, slideshows of families crying, videos of children screaming; every scroll showed me the horrors Israelis were facing.
But, every video had similar information. As I scrolled through, I found myself forming an opinion about a century-long conflict that in reality, I had very limited information about. As the days went on, the horrors of the conflict got more intense. The death toll went up, and because of the videos I had interacted with that first day, I found myself in a social media echo chamber. It was only when I saw Justin Bieber’s now infamous post (a photo of the devastation in Gaza with the caption Pray for Israel) that I realized how misinformed I may have been. After doing just a few hours of research, I could not believe I attempted to formulate an opinion on such a complex conflict with such little information.
Influencers on any social media platform are prone to misinformation and echo chambers, just as we are. Justin Bieber is just one example. Even those that do have enough information about any global conflict will post in support of the side they associate with. Celebrities like Noah Schnapp have been slammed for his support of Israel, just as sisters Bella and Gigi Hadid have been met with criticism for their support of Palestine. It seems as though no matter what side celebrities and influencers support, they are met with backlash from the opposing viewpoint.
This is exactly why we must stay away from social media when we attempt to educate ourselves on current events. Social media algorithms can easily cause us to become trapped in an echo chamber, and we are not truly informed when we have no context of the opposing viewpoint.
I am not telling you who or what you should support, because this type of conflict is extremely complex and there is no simple answer. What I am urging you to do is escape your information bubble. Seventy-four percent of Gen Z consume news from social media daily. It is important to branch out in our manners of news consumption. If you are introduced to a news story on Twitter, go to academic sources to get the full story. Read opposing viewpoints and listen to debates. It is okay if you don’t have an opinion about every domestic and global issue you may read an article or post about, but if you want to contribute to the conversation, do so in an educated manner. In our current political climate, the worst thing we can be as a generation is misinformed.
This week, it was Israel and Palestine. Last year, it was Roe v. Wade. The year before that, it was COVID. These serious domestic and international issues will be presented to us in a plethora of ways in the news, but it is harder to tell if our news is biased when we are not aware we are being influenced to believe a certain idea. Our generation’s dependency on social media does not have to not mean we are misinformed. We simply must take what we hear on social media as a basis of information, and do real research to formulate an opinion. Do not let your favorite influencer dictate how you feel on a societal issue. We need to do better with the manner in which we educate ourselves; as we begin to have a say in our society’s issues, our knowledge of current events will ultimately determine the level of impact we can have in making positive change.
Image via Creative Commons
Maya Nair, Missouri City, 12th Grade, @_mayanair