It’s no secret that social media has had a drastic impact on how we consume information. There is a stark contrast between how people used to read entire articles, spanning across multiple pages, and how people today rely on short-form content for the highlights and main points of a particular topic. Our dynamic world of media and messaging has both advantages and disadvantages, but it’s safe to say that we will never revert to our old means of consumption.
Because you can curate your own newsfeed by picking and choosing which accounts and sources you follow, virtually any piece of information or news that shows up in front of your face will come from those specific sources—and potentially nothing else. As a result, your news will be curated and censored in some form. Back when there were only a few newspapers, there wasn’t as much implicit bias in the content distributed to readers. But now, with sources all varying by political stance, background, and other determining factors that could shape the presentation of content, the news we consume is largely skewed, even if the source is considered “moderate.”
This aspect stems from the idea of our personally curated feeds for news. By following news sources and columnists that we wholeheartedly trust and who have gained credibility in our eyes, we build a subconscious, sometimes unconditional trust with their opinions. Because there is so much noise in the media space, we gather our news from these select sources, with the understanding that we will believe what we read from them, so we don’t have to look further. This poses a considerable risk for potential underlying biases and a toxic form of loyalty, which could result in the consumption of “fake news” or largely skewed news.
With such an inundation of different news sources demanding our attention on our social media feeds, it’s challenging to sort through the noise. What’s challenging about this noise is that most of it incorporates information that we are not looking for at that particular moment. So once we find an article or a post that reveals information about the news topic, we tend to skim it to look for solely the details we deem important, whatever those may be. This lack of thoroughness during our quick reading poses the risk of affecting how we cognitively consume information overall. Some of the most minute details that go overlooked can drastically affect the takeaways.
One of the advantages to social media is that we get access to information instantaneously, frequently just minutes after something happens. Instead of waiting for coverage during night time news or the following day’s issue of the newspaper, we can learn about an event at our fingertips through the power of social media. This helps our world stay as connected as possible, so we can stay socially and politically informed. The downside of that could be that the information isn’t wholly gathered or the source hasn’t had enough time to completely fact check.
With content being instant and readily available when topical, this also increases its likelihood of fleeting from the media’s attention at a rapid rate. Even if it is evergreen content, there is almost always something else immediately following it that demands readers’ attention even more. Sometimes we’ll find that just as we are beginning to learn more about an event or other item in the news, something else follows suit and floods our social media feeds, detracting attention from the initial matter.
Well, there you have it. All the ways social media affects how we consume the news. And we are certainly positive that you most likely skimmed this yourself. We hope by breaking down the touchpoints, you can get the full picture. Thanks for taking the time to give this a read!
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