Saturday, 3 January 2015

Being better and better informed

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

2015 is formally my year of battling accidental ignorance in my social circle. Ill-informed shares on Facebook, retweeted myths on Twitter ... and probably nothing on Google+. By and large, my social circle is exactly that - a group of people I enjoy spending time with - so this isn't simply turning into an Internet Warrior and righting wrongs and injustice wherever they may be.

I find myself tired of people linking "share within 10 minutes of receiving and your wishes will come true!" with the tag of "well it can't hurt to share". Unless your dream was someone getting annoyed when you post rubbish.

There's a limit to being passive and mine is at this point, when my friends click without thinking. They're smart, wonderful people and it leaves me scratching my head when these things are passed on as fact without even a cursory check.

An excellent, recent example is the circulation of a picture of MPs in the House of Commons debating disability (attendance: 10 people), then a picture of MPs voting on their own pay rise (attendance: all of them). It's a great crowd pleaser and frankly they're easy targets which makes it so believable, but I'd recommend reading a great piece in the Spectator by Isabel Hardman debunking it.

It it this ignorance I choose to address. Reading a little on each topic to see whether it's valid, accurate or flat out wrong doesn't take a lot of time. At worst*, this makes me a better informed person after five minutes - at best it helps to correct a misconception. Hopefully in a fashion that isn't simply a grumpy old man taking umbrage at Things On The Internet.

This doesn't necessarily qualify me as a good man by Burke's excellent definition, but I am keen to respectfully address thingsthat are clearly wrong - and dispel the myths and silence that allows these knowledge cancers to grow.

* The true worst outcome is that I'm actually an enormous bellend with jumped-up, inflated sense of worth and purpose. But hey, we'll skip that one for the moment ...

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