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Ever since we’ve been children attending classes in elementary school, teachers have always told us to get the bigger picture and know all the facets to a situation. We’ve investigated, proposed, and examined different projects, experiments, and events, all to understand what is true and what is not. Yet, as we get older, what we initially think is right, tends to stay set in stone no matter what information comes our way. Some lose their natural instinct to be a skeptic and take what they see first as what is right. Yet, being skeptical is probably one of the biggest skills to keep our heads straight with what’s going on around the world today.

There’s a lot that goes on around this world, but if there’s one thing that we can all agree upon, people have very strong opinions. No matter whether it’s about something as small as which soda tastes the best, or something as impactful as politics or human rights. We all have opinions, albeit some aren’t that solid, and in today’s age, we have platforms where we can easily express them to the entire world to see. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube seem to be some of the most popular vehicles for one to express their opinions, and also to gain new knowledge. People of all nationalities, genders, sexualities, ethnicities, religions, and more find places to project their own personal beliefs and opinions to the world, and can potentially cause arguments and debates. Though I’m not saying that we should keep our opinions to ourselves, in fact, I’m all for a good, educated, post on social media. However, I need to put an emphasis on the educated part. We have so much information that could be at our fingertips, yet many choose to ignore what we have access to.

Every single day, a new tragic event might occur or a juicy piece of news might be surfaced, but there’s always going to be multiple sources of information on it. However, a recurring trend that seems to be occurring is that people see one source and take it as the full truth, weighing any new piece of evidence against the first that they’ve heard using it as their most “valuable” source. Going off of this, there are many people who tend to be stubborn, and choose not to see the big picture in events that really need to be looked at closely (ex: hate crimes, police brutality, politics, and even celebrity gossip). In theory, it might seem illogical and you would think that you’d never do that, yet there are so many instances where people’s pride and natural stubbornness act as roadblocks to prevent people from seeing what’s really right.

For instance, in the United States, there have been many different events in the last year that have generated quite a large amount of attention from the media and people around the globe. That has proved to be both good and bad. We’ve gone through the protesting in Ferguson, instances of police brutality across the country, and most recently, the case of Sandra Bland’s death in custody. All over different social media feeds, I’ve seen different Mary’s and John’s lightly express the fact that “Policemen are not ever at fault or else they wouldn’t be in uniform” or that “these protesters are all being thugs”, yet there’s a potential problem with this. While some might have positive intentions behind what they say, they quickly take the first thing they hear, use it as a primary source, and shout it out to the world, ignoring anyone who corrects them. In all honesty, there’s ultimately difference between being ignorant and being difficult. There’s no point in taking something as it is at 100% if there’s no verification involved at all. Being skeptical and looking for more information about an event or idea that’s got multiple, distinct sides to it is probably the best way to develop a solid opinion on what you ultimately believe is right.

Social media has proven to be a double edged sword. The use of these platforms ensures the mass spread of information to people all around, (hopefully) educating them about what the truth is around the world. However, it’s what people do with this information, whether it be reliable or not, that they ultimately develop into an opinion that ends up sticking with them. This is why being skeptical and not accepting what you hear first is so valuable today. Questions are everything, a real lifeline in the grand scheme of things. We can utilize them easily in order to fully gain an understanding of what the situation is at hand to lead us down new pathways to more, solid information versus what we see others comment on Facebook or Twitter. I’d hate to sound like an uptight adult, but being knowledgeable, and questioning what’s given to you is going to get us in the right direction when it comes to developing opinions and ideas on what’s going on today.

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