Anyone can post whatever they want on social media with little consequence. The ease of interaction is having a huge impact on critical thinking. The large wealth of information available for anyone to access makes people feel like they have to react right away instead of thinking about what they’re seeing.
The ease of interaction has led to the internet developing a hive mind. If you disagree with what “Facebook says,” or don’t like what “Instagram thinks,” you might feel like you just have to accept it.
The shame associated with disagreement has led to those on the internet developing a hive mind. If you’re on social media, the chances are high that you let it influence what you think about almost everything. Your political viewpoints come from what your friends say, you don’t choose what to wear until 10 of your followers agree on an outfit, and you can’t even go out to eat without sharing it for the world to see.
You don’t have to accept what social media tells you. People thought and acted for themselves before the internet so that you can do it now. Here’s what you need to do to not let social media influence your opinion.
Create A Life Outside Of Social Media
If you’re always on social media, it’s going to influence every aspect of your life. Smartphones make it easy tweet every second of the day, or constantly scroll Facebook.
The first thing you can do is delete social media apps off of your phone. Being able to pull up Instagram at any time means you have a lot of exposure to outside opinions. If you don’t have easy access to it, then it can’t become so invasive in your life.
If you’re used to being on social media for every minute of the day, then deleting apps off of your phone can feel impossible at first. You’ll have to break the habit of regularly checking your phone for updates. But with time and effort, you can be free of the compulsion to scroll endlessly.
You don’t have to get rid of social media completely. One method you might want to try is implementing a screenless day or even a few hours. During this time, stay away from all screens. Put your computer, phone, tablet, TV, and other internet connected devices, out of reach.
It might feel like there’s nothing to do without the internet. However, countless activities don’t rely on the computer at all. You can pick up a craft, explore the great outdoors, or hang out with friends to start.
Do what you can to create a social life outside of social media. When you are with other people, put your phone away. Engage in conversation with them. Get to know them. Figure out what they are doing with their lives. If you have a friend that you haven’t seen in a while, schedule something with them.
Do Your Own Research Before Consulting Social Media
67% of Americans rely on social media for the news. Unlike many informational articles, social media doesn’t have as much of an expectation to cite sources.
It’s incredibly easy for fake news to go viral on Facebook. All it takes is for someone to make up a story that speaks to the fears of many people, and it’ll get thousands of repostings within 24 hours.
Trying to get your information about the world from social media is like trying to learn how to cook a meal from someone who has never prepared anything more than a pack of noodles. They’re more likely to lead you wrong than they are to teach you correctly.
Instead of just believing what anyone on your feed says, take time to research it for yourself. The information age makes it easier than ever before to research and learn about any topic. All you have to do is type a search query into your browser bar, and Google will pull up hundreds of thousands of results.
It isn’t enough to find one article and come to a conclusion from that. If you can find multiple sources to confirm what you suspect, then the chances are good that you’ve come to a reasonable conclusion.
Use the information you find to come to your conclusion. Don’t ask other people what you should think and let social media influence your opinion. Reason through it for yourself. If you’re constantly online, it can be difficult not just to take what other people say as truth.
If you find yourself just agreeing with something someone you follow stated, then start doing some research. You don’t have to accept their belief as your own. You have free will, and you can believe whatever feels right to you.
Stop Following People Who Won’t Listen To Reason
One of the greatest things about social media is that you can follow whoever you want. If your stream is full of people who are trying to force you to think or behave a certain way, unfollow them immediately.
People who won’t listen to reason will do nothing but harm your ability to make your own opinions. They don’t care if the information they have is inaccurate. They only care about being right, and about making other people see that they are right. These people are some of the most dangerous when it comes to trying to think for yourself. They will probably even get angry at you if they see that you are doing anything but agreeing with them and supporting their point of view.
Keep in mind that these people have no power over you. They can’t do anything to harm you or impact your life. While they can seem incredibly scary and influential online, they aren’t able to change what’s going on in your day to day life. Do what you can to ignore what they say and don’t let it get to your head.
One of the best things you can do to support having your own opinion is to follow and connect with people who are willing to learn. These people will listen to you if you say you don’t agree with what they are saying.
They are also willing to research new topics for themselves. They will often encourage you to educate yourself and come to your conclusion.
Make sure you keep your conversation respectful. Not everyone will agree with each other, and that’s okay. You can still talk to and connect with people without agreeing with them on every single topic. Differences in opinion help people discover new ideas and promote diversity. And diversity is part of what makes life beautiful.
Realize That People Can Say Anything On Social Media
If you’ve gotten in the habit of letting social media influence your opinion, it can feel incredibly difficult to start thinking for yourself. You might feel guilty for going against what everyone around you is saying. Peer pressure to conform is an incredibly powerful force, and it can feel like you are doing something wrong by going against it.
While many platforms have community guidelines that prevent people from misbehaving, they don’t police what people say. That means that if someone has an incredibly vigorous opinion about something, there is nothing to stop them from posting and talking about what they believe.
Even if someone has a link to back up their claims, remember that anyone can write an article on the internet. If the post has reputable sources, and information to prove what they are talking about, that is one thing. But if they cite an op-ed piece, that doesn’t do anything to prove the truth of what they are saying.
Opinions are just what someone believes. They are subjective and don’t require any truth or proof behind them. How someone feels about a topic has nothing to do with the validity of the topic itself. You are entitled to your feelings and your thoughts, regardless of what anyone else might say.
You have the right to think, feel, and act however you choose. You don’t have to agree with what everyone on social media is saying. If you think differently, then embrace it. If you disagree with what someone is trying to tell you, don’t feel like you have to keep it to yourself. Conversation provokes new thoughts, and can often help people see any fault in their train of logic. People aren’t meant to exist in a vacuum, and their opinions shouldn’t either.
If you’re worried about someone disagreeing with you or trying to change your mind, then know that you aren’t obligated to post your opinion online. You can keep it to yourself and know that you are an intelligent human being, fully capable of creating your own opinion.