Go Digital, Go Viral !

By Lara Salomon

 

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We are digital beings.

We live our lives from moment to moment, fluttering between social networking sites and reading up the latest on News24 rather than picking up a newspaper. I am a trained journalist and I cannot remember the last time that I picked up a newspaper at the corner store. There’s no need! Anything I want to know is right at my fingertips.

I have never noticed this more than this week with the Oscar Pistorius case looming in the front of my mind. From the moment I heard about the case, I was Googling it. And lo and behold, there were no fewer than 10 articles available for my perusal, all within minutes of the news breaking.

What is funny is that all of those news articles used the same source as a reference for what happened. One newspaper, the Beeld to be specific, mentioned that Pistorius may have believed Steenkamp to be an intruder, and suddenly every newspaper was mentioning it. International news stations were reporting on the tragic accident rather than reporting on what looks now every more likely to be a premeditated murder.

Even as the case continues, there are rumours being mixed in with the facts. A whisper about a cricket bat and a bashed skull, a hint that his belongings may have been thrown into his garage, and the general feeling that Pistorius’s love life is not all that it seemed before that Valentine’s morning.

When information is as easy to acquire as a grain of sand on a beach, you have to be wary about what you read. Take it with a pinch of salt and read as many articles from different news agencies as you can find. Don’t give in to the temptation to believe whatever it is that you come across just because it is available to you.

It’s like those chain emails that I keep getting that tell me all about the latest danger to my computer and to my safety. One check on snopes.com, and I find that half of the messages are nothing more than Urban Legend or Old Wives Tales. As much as I would love to say that everything you read is true, it is far more likely that a dodgy story is nothing more. I have to keep reminding Mom of this!

So keep reading, keep filling your mind with all of the wealth of information around you, but keep an open mind while you do so and remember that just because it’s all online doesn’t mean it’s all in line (with the truth).

 

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