Ever since COVID-19 has struck the world, social media has been an ever important tool in passing on information. During the lockdown period, many people were able to keep in touch with the news through platforms like Facebook and Instagram. However, the rise in the use of social media has shed light on an issue that has been plaguing our society for years ; ignorance.
While scrolling through social media apps like Facebook, the first thing that we can discern is the panoply of contrasting opinions, especially when discussing controversial topics. Indeed it is interesting to watch people engage in debates on pertinent matters, especially in the comment sections of local media outlets. However, far too often these “debates” or “discussions” are rife with erroneous assumptions or misinformation. What is even more baffling is our susceptibility to “fake news”. Anything that can cause a reaction or arouse interest among people is mindlessly shared, because in Mauritian society, it seems that the sensational aspect of the news is given more importance than its authenticity.
Misleading information can have devastating chain effects on our society and it is imperative to make sure that whatever information that we pass around is legitimate and credible, since social media is becoming more and more prevalent. In fact, according to Data Reportal, the number of active social media users in Mauritius increased by sixty thousand between April 2019 and January 2020. This demonstrates how accessible these platforms and how, if mishandled can damage the cohesion of our society.
The inevitable fact is that people will never stop blowing things out of proportion or even using social media as a way to deliberately propagate their fabricated lies. However, we must make sure to consume our news from reliable sources and learn to recognize the difference between sensational and objective media. In this way, we can reduce the extent to which our collective conscience of reality is being altered by social media apps.
Like Friedrich Nietszche once said, “if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe. But if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire.” These words are ever important in a digital world where our democracy is facing serious threats.