"What you give attention to, determines your reality," - Hamza Yusuf, Co-founder and President of Zaytuna College
It's 2022, and the latest study suggests that most Americans cannot tell the difference between facts and opinions.
Pew Research Center also found that most Americans (71%) get their news on any topic from social media.
Look at how close these two percentages are. 74% and 71%.
I won't say that taking your news from social media will directly make you stupider.
However, I will say social media has lead to an increase in misinformation and disinformation.
Whether or not our perspectives and interests in life are right or wrong, social media will amplify whatever position we choose.
Whether we think cats are cute or stupid, for example, social media will give us content aligning with whichever view we have on cats.
If we think that tennis is the best sport in the world (which it is), social media will fill our feed with content that further solidifies that stance.
Social media will fill our feeds with what we like and what side we choose on any given matter.
If you like to laugh (who doesn't?), social media will fill your feed with funny memes and videos as long as you'd like.
If you think the world is depressing and will only break your heart, social media will solidify that position for you in life.
You get the point.
Social media algorithms are behind this, and they only get 'smarter'.
The more you react to certain posts on social media, the more the algorithm will fill your feed with posts similar to those you reacted to.
That being said, social media algorithms will not only do this for light-hearted issues such as pets and sports.
Social media will do this on topics and issues that can affect local communities, nations, and even the globe.
Take some of the controversial issues affecting the United States currently, such as abortion.
I will not be expressing my opinion on this issue in this article. However, I shall take this issue as an example.
If you are of the opinion that abortion is a necessary reproductive right, you will react to content on social media that aligns with your opinion.
Sooner than later, the algorithm will fill your feed solely with content that supports your side of the argument.
Then, you will see content dehumanizing those who differ with your point of view.
On the other hand, if you think abortion is murder, your feed will slowly fill up with content that supports your side of the argument as well. Little by little, the content you see will further dehumanize those who differ with you.
Your fellow countrymen and countrywomen will become your enemies.
Therefore, if you only give attention to what you think is right, even if it could be wrong, it will become your reality.
Abortion is only one issue of thousands of issues that are prevalent in the 21st century.
Social media can greatly affect what type of information you consume regarding any issue.
The more one-sided you become, the harder it will be for you to distinguish facts vs opinions, especially pertaining to your stance on an issue.
No wonder the percentages are so similar. We use social media so much, for better, and for worse.
It will surprise you how long the average individual will use social media in their lifetime.
Six whole years, and more.
According to The World Health Organization, the average lifespan of a human being is 73.4 years, and if you divide 73.4 by 6, you will get approximately 12.
Therefore, the average individual in the 21st century will use social media for approximately 12% of their entire life.
Imagine if all those six years worth of time, you were consuming content that withheld you from thinking objectively.
Now imagine if you are a country with over 300 million people.
That's the average American.
What you give attention to, will determine your reality.
Now more than ever, it is important to think objectively, and gather as much factual information as possible.
If you won't, chances are you'll be one of the 74% of Americans that cannot distinguish an opinion from a fact.