A recent study has shown that eating the peel of a banana can serve as a natural reliever for depression due to the antioxidants in the peel. That statement was made up five minutes ago and is entirely false. That’s how easy it is to spread misinformation.

With all this technology at our fingertips, people have become extremely susceptible to fake news and misinformation. Very few people are willing to dedicate the amount of time required to decipher true information from conspiracy. Especially when doing so has become so difficult since all the information seen on a person’s feed is designed to align with their beliefs.

Blind faith is the religion of those who lack the nerve, courage, and curiosity to challenge their beliefs.

Obviously, conspiracy theories are nothing new, but they have greater reach and intensity with the advent of social media. Platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok are the main information sources for most young people, but the information found on these platforms is hardly accurate. With their sophisticated and cultivated algorithms, easy-access information is highly tailored to suit one’s specific beliefs and interests, which does not always provide accurate knowledge. In a July 2020 article from the CBC by Craig Stevens, he comments that he assumed Tik Tok was a “harmless place to share dance and comedy videos. I had no idea it was a primary news source for many young and impressionable minds”. Although Tik Tok was designed for these purposes, it has become a platform where individuals with a mass following can spread true, or entirely false information to their audience. Rumours, trends, and information spread like wildfire throughout these platforms, thus making it nearly impossible to identify where the information began, and if it spread from a reliable source.

A recent trend ravaging its way through Tik Tok, has been the Grabavoi codes. These codes are, a pseudoscience based around seemingly random strings of numbers that are thought to bring good fortune. There are numbers for good grades (89941503), weight loss (1891014), love (5294361), and hundreds more. What most people are unaware of is that these codes, this theory, is the brainchild of a criminal. Grigori Grabavoi is a Russian cult leader who spent 11 years in prison for fraud because he promised mothers who had lost their children that he could resurrect them. People often turn to the internet when they are in a state of loneliness, grief, or boredom, which does little but open people up to manipulation by people looking to spread false information. What is seen on social media is just the product of an algorithm; therefore, it is imperative the one can tell fake news from real news. But, when in a weakened or desperate state, a once clear mind can become cloudy, and people will then believe anything. If someone was told that studies had shown that yodelling outside will help a lost dog return home, they would most likely laugh, and never think about it again. However, if this person had just lost their dog, due to their state of mind, they would be much more likely to believe that statement. Before believing or sharing a piece of information, take a moment do a little extra research. Sites like https://mediasmarts.ca/break-fake can be useful to test your critical thinking, as to not fall victim to the false claims of manipulators like Mr. Grabavoi.

There is so much misinformation everywhere. Many believe COVID-19 for example, is a hoax, and that the vaccine is a way for the government to track or control people. Due to a lack of critical thinking, far too many people believe these statements to be true. People hear claims like these and think it makes total sense that the government would want that type of control, but they fail to realize that their phones, their most prized possession is tracking and controlling them already. The government already has everyone’s social insurance number, and tax information. Tracking where someone went for breakfast does not merit them  at all. The government has an entire country to run, why would they concern themselves with this type of information? Corporations such as Google or Facebook, on the other hand, only care about where people go for breakfast so they can target advertising at consumers and sell their data to the highest bidder.

Blind faith is the religion of those who lack the nerve, courage, and curiosity to challenge their beliefs. Qualities that are 100% necessary if people are to succeed in this world of false information. Blind faith is the lifestyle of a follower in a world that needs more leaders. It is the lifestyle of a conspiracy theorist.

Photo credit:
Photo courtesy of Washington University School of Medicine
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