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The Vicious Cycle of Misinformation: Literacy and How It’s a Weapon in The Modern World

The morning sun peers through the cracks in one’s windows. You are then torn between wanting to wake up or sinking deeper into your bed. Before you know it, you’re grabbing hold of your phone. These gadgets are the first and last thing we see upon the multitude of days in our lives. Specks of the blues and whites of the screen flash on one’s face as the phone’s interface materializes on the screen.

Since it’s our only convenient source of information, whatever it is that we see, no matter how wild or impossible the headline may sound, we absorb it without question. Thus, we are likely to fall victim to the vicious act of misinformation, falling straight into a calculated routine. 

This leads us to the fact that literacy is often discredited and treated as unimportant and irrelevant when, on the blatant contrary, literacy is everywhere, even from the very beginning—drawing back to 2285 BCE. It has always been and will never stop being a powerful medium of knowledge. Sometimes, people are even subjected to forceful silence because knowing something is infinitely more dangerous.

So, no matter how much some people roll their eyes at the sheer mention of anything related to literature, put off by the complicated nature it holds, no one can deny its power. A power that can easily be turned into a weapon made to harm if it falls into the wrong hands.

Literature’s grasp and influence on people’s judgments have significantly strengthened throughout the years through the birth of writers and readers in each era. It has gone unrecognized, unnoticed, or simply ignored, but, this hold and effect have grown ever more so now with the modernization of literature branching out more and more. 

Having digital accounts of news and journalism isn’t significantly a first. But, what is a new feature of digital media is that it has become our only source of news due to its convenience in usage. As of January 2022, the number of social media users in our country has risen to 76.01 million, contributing to the 4.70 billion users worldwide, with 227 million new users coming online within the past year. Now, imagine what it’ll be like adding the other countries’ users into the equation—that’ll mean more than half of the population have joined and presumably ended up relying on social media for entertainment, communication, and, of course, news. 

Nowadays, anyone can write about anything, thus making it easy to spread fallacies and misinformation. The more ridiculous, the better. It creates a never-ending cycle, interconnected just like clockwork; one simple article gets the attention of the mass majority because of its absurdity,  spreads, gains more attention, and people will believe it to be true. 

Misinformation works for a number of reasons. 

We tend to agree with what makes sense to us, with ideas that already fit our narrative and worldview. When we already agree with something, it’s not difficult to accept information as fact. We also veer away from verifying the information, given how easier it is to passively scroll than to verify facts. We don’t realize how vulnerable we can become. 

Something is believed because, to some extent, there’s some truth to it, and people often use that to their advantage, to align the narrative in their favor. Well-regarded people deemed “important” can go off on tangents and deviations to distract and redirect their audience’s attention from the lies they spout out. They start off with something unbelievable and false, then go on and support it with truthful statements that’ll make you think you’re a fool for questioning the legitimacy of it in the first place. This is disinformation. This is deception. These are intended lies.

Similar to bulls, we can’t see the red flags once they’re waving right in front of us. Spectators and critics alike view you as a source of amusement for your vulnerability. 

With that in mind, since media is an ever-growing presence in all of our lives and isn’t going away anytime soon, it is important to be vigilant and careful in the consumption of these varied forms and sources of information and entertainment. Let’s be conscious of where our attention goes; it’s a resource we so easily give away.

Even with all that, keep in mind that information is fundamental. It contains the language we use to speak to each other and make things happen. Without journalism and news, the world would be ignorant. Without books and scripts, we’d lack entertainment. Without language itself, it would be unfathomable how the world would continue to run and improve.

There are two sides to the same coin, and the same can be said with this situation. There’s someone to fool and someone to be fooled. As aforementioned, there isn’t anything wrong with information. It’s practically fundamental to get anywhere in the world. What’s wrong is when a person misuses the purpose and availability of communication—when it seeks to deceive and not to inform.

Lies allow us to create a convenient, albeit alternate truth, but it comes at the expense of trust. Trust is a vital component of relationships, as it is with both the writer and their audience. So, really, is it worth risking the trust of another in exchange for convenience?

As the digital age makes all information—no matter their authenticity and veracity—available, may we never forget that while information is accessible, truth is much harder to find. May we always find it within ourselves to actively seek out and find truth.





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de Guzman, J. (2023, March 20). Social Media Statistics in the Philippines [Updated 2023]. Meltwater. https://www.meltwater.com/en/blog/social-media-statistics-philippines

Chaffey, D. (2023, January 30). Global social media statistics research summary 2023. Smart insights. https://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/new-global-social-media-research/

Newman, N. (2022, June 15). Overview and key findings of the 2022 Digital News Report. Reuters Institute. https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/digital-news-report/2022/dnr-executive-summary