As We Head into the Election, How Do I Know Whom to Trust?

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I get my news mostly from social media, Facebook in particular. As we head into the U.S. elections, how do I know whom to trust?

I suggest you ditch social media entirely—and not only for the election season but for all seasons. Solid research suggests it contributes to feelings of inadequacy (Look at their backyard or dinner or vacation!), divisiveness, and disinformation (unverified stuff forwarded by you and me but also things that are intentionally false and designed to mislead). And don’t get me started on wacko conspiracy theories running rampant (did someone say QAnon?).

If social media can’t be trusted, what’s a good citizen to do?

Better is to check out a variety of websites published by organizations you trust to see what they have to say about the candidates. Everyone is biased, of course, but at least you know it might be closer to a complete truth. Especially handy are sites that do a side-by-side comparison of candidates, their record on the issues, and their answers to position questions. Established local newspaper sites can also be helpful—search for “voter guide.”

Too busy for all that? I’d suggest you get offline and get with someone who is well-informed—someone you trust but don’t always agree with (that’s key) and have a conversation driven by questions like: What issues do you care about in the coming election? Which candidates seem most in line with how you feel about those issues? If you had to suggest some online places to get a good overview of the issues and the candidates, where would you suggest I go?

Yes, it takes work to be responsible.

About the Author

Dean Heetderks is co-director of Ministry Support Services of the CRC and art director of The Banner. Wondering about any part of the digital side of your life? Tell him about it at dean.heetderks@gmail.com

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