In the headline-driven web and the bumper sticker world in which we live, misinformation is all around us. Bloggers and news websites write candy-coated headlines to try to entice the all-important click to their website, and information consumers are so inundated with noise they don’t take the time to truly read any longer. In the olden days (oh yeah I’m feeling old now) people would read the newspaper front to back. It was their daily source of written media and they would take the time to read it cover to cover. Now we glance at our social media and blog feeds and scroll past tens and hundreds of messages per day all competing for our attention.
As such bloggers and news sites have to write headlines that make you stop and click. You’ll see things like “The Internet is Dead” and other bold headlines that make you go hmmm. But then if you actually click through and read the story you’ll find toward the end of the story the writer may say something like, “So the internet isn’t REALLY dead, but…” and spin the story to fit the headline. Sometimes I get mad when I actually get to the point of the story because I feel like I was duped into reading something that wasn’t really about the topic I thought it was in the first place. Kind of like people who saw my title, “The Internet is Dead” and thought it may be some thought-provoking article from an internet marketing company about how our industry is dying. (Sorry folks, but the internet is here to stay so you’d better learn how to leverage it for your business.)
Unfortunately these misleading headlines make it extremely difficult for information consumers to sort through the noise and make judgements as to whether the information they scan is accurate. If our technology channels are molding a “scanning culture” I wonder how our children will fare in processing and learning new information? People like me who grew up in the old-style media and is immersed in the new media understands what has happened. That’s why when I see a ridiculous headline I immediately put my Skeptical Hat on and look for the angle in the story (after I actually read the whole story!) If children grow up scanning and not fully reading, vetting and comprehending, what will they actually learn? Does it change HOW they learn? That’s for people smarter than me to figure out, but I am smart enough to know we’re doing our kids a disservice if we don’t teach them how to navigate this crazy world we’ve created for them.