When someone has a question they automatically look on the internet to find the answer. But how do you know if this answer is reliable and from a good source? Most of the time you click on the first link that pops up or grabs your attention. Not to mention that the links at the top of Google are the ones that people need to pay a lot for so you don’t even know if you can believe it. Growing up I always used the internet for school so they always educated us as much as they could by bringing us to the library and having the librarian talk to us. We were told that websites ending in .gov or .org were very reliable and using Wikipedia was not allowed. In high school we were provided with database user names and passwords for papers and projects which was very convenient, but what happens when it is just a random question and not something scientific? Clearly over the past few decades the amount of information on the internet has blown up and for many people it is next to impossible to differentiate fiction from fact.
Many educational institutions bash Wikipedia calling it “unreliable” just because it is a digital and collaborative place for people to leave information. I do see where they are coming from, anybody can edit it and they can say whatever they want. But your edits and submissions also need to be approved and if they are not approved than they do not make it onto the official website. I think people need to wake up and smell the roses. We live in a digital age, we are just in the beginning stages of this digital age so it is just going to expand more and more over time. I say we embrace the digital age, sure Wikipedia may have some errors but as Cathy Davidson points out in “We can’t ignore the influence of digital technologies” even encyclopedias have errors in them! So why do we try and shoot down something new and digitally friendly? It could be because it is new to us or maybe because not everybody gets its concept or how to work it.
Users of this digital technology need to be better educated. They need to learn how to determine if a site has reliable information or not. John McManus suggests using the “SMELL” test. SMELL stands for Source Motivation Evidence Logic and Left out. Using these steps can help determine if your information is reliable and usable. If everyone learned what information was usable the internet would be a safer place. Many times on social media sites like Twitter people will make accounts called “Google Facts” or something along those lines, than they tweet all of these different “facts.” Many of them sound outrageous and very farfetched but people believe it because the name of the account Google Facts. I’m sorry but if I see a tweet that says something that sounds weird I will not believe it and then go around spreading this false information to other people.
Social media in general puts out a lot of false information and rumors. How many times do you go on Facebook or Twitter and see a scandal about how someone died when they are still very well and alive. These tweets and articles spread like wildfire and people suck up this drama like it’s water. It is not all that different from the tabloids that people waste their money on- the only difference is that social media is usually free.I think the problem really lies with the users. They are uneducated and will believe almost anything that is posted on the internet. Especially when it seems like it is coming from a reliable website. I know I am very skeptical about many things on the internet, some websites sketch me out and drive me away from using them. I just hope that as the digital media age booms the users become smarter and use more common sense when using the web. Whether it be regarding information that you post, what you read, or what you share you always need to be careful no matter what.