As a matter of fact

The way we know things today is vastly different from a century, a decade or even a year ago. New technologies and mediums are constantly introduced and integrated into our lives. Consequently, the way information is transmitted also changes with the introduction of television, the Internet, smartphones and social media.

In the next minute, 700 YouTube videos are shared through Twitter, more than 600,000 pieces of content are shared on Facebook and 2 million Google searches are made, according to social media consultant Jeff Bullas' website.

The dominant presence of social and mass media in our lives has led to an overwhelming volume of information being fed to us daily. Yet, how many of us ever stop to think critically about these bits of facts and information?

According to The New York Times' website, the publication's most shared and e-mailed article in 2011 was an opinion editorial by a team of researchers, headlined, "You Love Your iPhone. Literally.” Using brain scans, the researchers found neuronal activity in the insula a region of the brain linked to love and compassion when showing subjects a video of a ringing iPhone.

They concluded that people must truly love their iPhones.

As it turns out, the insula is also linked to memory, language, attention, anger, disgust, and pain. With that same logic, it appears we are literally disgusted and hurt by our iPhones too. Thus, research proving our love for iPhones may seem plausible, and even obvious, but upon closer analysis, we can see it is not as simple as that. Consumers should take a step back and do some critical thinking — or critical Googling.

Skepticism, not to be mistaken with cynicism, is a word that comes with connotations of doubt and distrust. When iPhones are already proposed to trigger so many emotions from us, memory should serve that doubt and distrust would also be included.

Skepticism encompasses deciding if a claim is true or false, as well as reflective reasoning about beliefs and action. In an era when everything published or shared is about being more eye-catching, more impressive and more persuasive, skepticism is certainly a useful outlook.

After all, coming into contact with misleading ideas and stretched facts is almost inevitable. In everyday life, we see it in political speeches, advertisements and heart-wrenching videos that promote a certain cause. (Remember Kony 2012?)

Instead of bemoaning the manipulative nature of humans, it is wiser to do some critical thinking. Taking the time to question or critically analyze the information we are presented with can reveal insights that we would have missed if we had just taken something at face value.

Essentially, there is no such thing as "a matter of fact." Question everything. Even this article.

OpinionAaron LeeComment