Truth in the Light of a Facebook Fast: What I’ve Learned So Far

 

Recently I decided to take a break from Facebook.

Normally, I check it throughout the day. In fact, I’m sad to say it had become one of my main sources of information and gathering news, and also one of my main modes of communication with many friends and business associates, due to my involvement in Facebook groups and Facebook Messenger.

[I’ve found much better things to do lately, thankfully.]
However, as this presidential election looms I was finding myself in a constant state of depression, bordering on hopelessness. It seems that 90% of my feed was filled with hateful posts among friends and acquaintances, clickbait false news stories, and general insulting comments from uneducated, intolerant, and, apparently, illiterate folks on both sides of the proverbial political aisle.

In fact, I’d found myself too tempted to keep from engaging in all the nonsense more than once, and was beginning to hate myself for it.

I’d had enough.

I realized that I was spending entirely too much time worrying about how confused everyone else was about this entire election process while becoming more and more confused myself, and frustrated at my lack of ability to communicate my own opinions effectively, without offending.

I have been astounded by the amount of blatantly false information and propaganda being spewed across the internet, to the point that most people do not know how to tell fact from fiction/clickbait anymore. The so-called national news media has become as bad as any gossip rag. As far as I can tell, we have no “fair and balanced” news reporting going on at all in this country anymore. Every media outlet has chosen a side and is incredibly biased in both their opinion-related shows and their so-called news reporting.

So, I decided to take a break, and try to find out if there is any news and information outlet out there that is reporting the truth in such a way that I can trust it as a source to gather information in order to form my own opinions.

Do you remember what that was even like?

It used to be that people had specific principles and beliefs that were based upon their faith, their upbringing, and their world view. Then, when the FACTS were reported, each person could form an opinion based upon those facts combined with their worldview, principles, faith, and beliefs, and then make their judgment as to how they should act or, as to be the case much sooner than we’ll ever be ready, vote.

And we usually kept those opinions quiet, believe it or not. I remember when my parents didn’t even tell their own children which way they voted in an election, must less report it all on Facebook and Twitter for all the world to see and comment on!

Unfortunately, too often, this isn’t the case anymore. Everything is distorted. Media outlets cannot be trusted to simply report the news and facts. Social Media outlets have become a firestorm of misinformation and misleading propaganda, designed to intentionally sway the masses.

And it is working.

And even worse, amidst all the confusion, everybody forms opinions based upon falsehoods, and then we make them into a billboard and engage in the spreading of false propaganda ourselves.

We’ve become our own worst enemies.

After disengaging for just a little over a week, I went back on to Facebook this morning to post something on behalf of an organization for which I occasionally post travel stories. While online, I skimmed through my Facebook feed – it was entirely too tempting not to do so. What I found was pretty amazing.

I realized that I had been reading Facebook as a type of news source. I had been depending upon my Facebook feed to give me my viewpoint of the world and where we are today.

And while I have always prided myself upon my ability to discern truth from fiction, I realized that I was still being swayed by simple comments and posts being made by friends and people I barely know, or even don’t really know at all.

My Facebook feed, of which maybe 10% consists of friendly posts by people I care about and updates on their lives, actually consists mainly of false information, clickbait stories being reposted as “fact” meant to sway my opinions, and a very skewed view of the world as it really is.

I also realized that most of the posts that were showing up in my feed, probably 80 – 90%, are from people whom I barely know on a personal basis. This, even after I have done everything I can to control my newsfeed and the posts that I see by following/unfollowing certain people and groups. I realized that a huge portion of the posts appearing in my feed are by self-described paid “social media influencers”. People or organizations who actually get paid or get perks from writing posts about products, events, and services.

Now, many of these people I do know and trust. In fact, I’ve also received benefits from writing for travel and entertainment organizations and promoting things on social media. This can be a great thing when used appropriately, providing fantastic opportunities for working from home.

However, I also know enough about social media marketing and influence that I know that there are a lot of folks out there who will hawk just about anything in order to earn a check or a few perks, and to keep their good thing going.

Also, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s not just the sketchy websites selling us a pig in a poke (look up that euphemism if you’re not familiar). You need to know that formerly “reputable news sources” have sold out to the entire clickbait phenomenon. The goal isn’t to report ‘just the facts, ma’am’. No. The goal is to “go viral”.

Have you noticed all the supposed “headlines” that start with phrases such as “You’re Not Going to Believe What She Looks Like Now…” ? And because you’re wondering what Melanie Griffith looks like you click on it, only to find that it was actually an ad for some bogus face cream from a fly-by-night company?

That’s not news. That’s not even what we used to know as a “gossip rag”. That’s an AD.

Well, now those news sources that we all once trusted to gather our daily news and facts are using those clickbait-type ads as well, only they do not distinguish whether or not they are actual news stories or ads disguised to look like news stories…or even FALSE ADS, which aren’t news stories and aren’t even actual product ads, but are placed there for the sole purpose of getting you to click on them because THEY GET PAID PER CLICK!

STOP FALLING FOR IT!!!

Stop falling for clickbait ads and false websites that are simply money-makers for the people who own the domain names and will post anything, ANYTHING, simply to get you to click so they can make a buck!

Guys, please tell me we are smarter than this!

If we can get duped by these things on social media, imagine what the powers-that-be can do to manipulate the masses in order to accomplish their foolish plans!

We have to understand that there is now no difference between “Social Media” and “Main Stream Media”. It has all morphed into one humongous cloud of foggy froth designed to confuse and manipulate.

So, how do we know who to trust?

Where do we go to learn how to interpret the internet and this constant barrage of information, and to distinguish between fact and fiction?

Is there a college somewhere we all need to attend to learn how to use discernment in the media? No – I do not trust our university campuses, which have become elaborate tools of propaganda for the media and political parties.

Is there any source of truth we can actually trust anymore?

 

Well, after spending only one week outside of the social media fog, I am already beginning to see a little more clearly.

Here’s the TRUTH, folks: If you are already without guiding precepts and principles in your life, no amount of fact-reporting is going to guide you into the truth.

In order to make sense of any facts and know the truth, you must first know and understand Truth.

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-5)

If you are reading the Word of God, which is the Truth, and praying for godly wisdom and discernment, then and only then will you have the ability to discern between facts and propaganda (which is a way of skewing facts just enough to make you believe things a certain way).

In the above Scripture, Paul wrote in his letter to Timothy to stay away from those who just wanted to make money from preaching and from those who strayed from the sound teachings of the Good News, leading into quarrels that caused strife within the Church. Just as it is important to discern false news reporting from the reporting of the facts in our society, it is also extremely important in this day and age for Christ-followers to beware of false teachers WITHIN the church. And my friend, I’m sad to say that I am finding so much false teaching going on right now. This is what disturbs me most of all. The only way you can discern is to stay in the Word of God, and pray for wisdom and discernment.

You know, Satan himself, who is known as the “father of lies”, is famous for using the truth to deceive us by simply taking it and twisting it just enough, or even leaving parts out …. enough that it’s imperceptible to most, unless you are truly diligent, in the Word of God and praying for godly wisdom and discernment to be able to recognize it.

lewis-screwtape

C.S. Lewis wrote an amazing work of satirical fiction called The Screwtape Letters, in which
the story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior Demon, Screwtape, to his nephew Wormwood, a Junior Tempter (demon). The uncle’s mentorship pertains to the nephew’s responsibility in securing the damnation of a British man known only as “the Patient”. He is teaching his nephew exactly how to destroy souls and “win” them over for Satan, written from their viewpoint.

This excerpt from it has been going around on the internet again, and because it is so fitting to this post I’m going to share it here:

“My Dear Wormwood,

Be sure that the patient remains completely fixated on politics. Arguments, political gossip, and obsessing on the faults of people they have never met serves as an excellent distraction from advancing in personal virtue, character, and the things the patient can control. Make sure to keep the patient in a constant state of angst, frustration and general disdain towards the rest of the human race in order to avoid any kind of charity or inner peace from further developing. Ensure that the patient continues to believe that the problem is “out there” in the “broken system” rather than recognizing there is a problem with himself.

Keep up the good work,
Uncle Screwtape”

(CS Lewis, 1942)

My friends, we are ALL the patients of the demons that are hard at work to distract us from the Truth.

The ONLY way to recognize this and see the light of truth, the only way to get through this is to unplug from the distractions of the lies of the MEDIA FOG, all of it, and STUDY THE TRUTH, diligently.

And PRAY.

Pray for wisdom and discernment, that the Lord will direct your path, that He will make clear to you the way you must learn, gather information, form opinions, and then act upon them.

Remember, no matter who the world leaders are, we KNOW that God will always and forever remain on His Sovereign Throne. We rest in that Knowledge, that Peace, that TRUTH.

Enjoy the freedom from arguments, political gossip, and obsessing on the faults of people you have never met.

Leave behind the constant state of angst, frustration and general disdain towards the rest of the human race by simply turning off the so-called Main Stream/Social Media FOG.

Stop believing that the problems are all “out there” in the “broken system”, and allow the Truth to open you up to the log in your own eye, the problem within… those things that you ARE capable of working on and improving upon, focusing upon personal virtue, character, and the things within your own control.

Focus on finding the Truth and the answers for yourself, and pray for guidance in what YOU should do. Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing, or posting, or how they are voting.

Let the Truth within you be the Light that shines forth for others in this present darkness.

As a Christ-follower, it is more important that we care about the heart and the eternal soul of a person, rather than the way their ballot is marked.

If we lose sight of that Truth, we have truly lost.

Let charity begin with you, and let peace come from within your heart first.

I guarantee that’s the only way it will spread.

(By the way, my blog has not been monetized. I get paid nothing for these posts, just a little peace of mind by getting some things off my chest from time to time.)

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