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Use these 9 strategies to share responsibly on social media

People use fear to motivate and manipulate. Using phrases like “they don’t want you to see this”, “share before they remove it ”, and words like racist, fascist, communist, conspiracy, censored, socialist, control, right, left, etc. imply an urgency that usually isn’t realistic or rational. Sharing verifiable information allows your friends to draw their own conclusions based on fact not fear.

Recently while browsing on  Facebook, I found and enjoyed watching  an inspirational animated video that “won an Academy Award for best animated film.” I don’t know the person who shared it (a public post) but I was curious and decided to research before sharing too.

What I found was a blog post by Chuck Sigars (who I also don’t know) detailing how he researched it and found nothing verifying this claim. I couldn’t either. So I didn’t share the video.

Fact vs. Fiction on Social Media

Now I don’t think the person who shared the video was lying, I think she truly believed it won an Oscar. It was visually appealing and had a heartwarming message about kindness. And many people have shared it, all with the claim “won an Academy Award.” But did it really?

I didn’t share the video because I don’t want to perpetuate what to me and others has become a serious problem on social media-creating, promoting, and/or sharing false information.

The paradox of living in this era is that as easy as it is to spread fiction, it’s almost as easy to disprove it.

Chuck Sigars

The other “pandemic”

“Fake news” has been an issue with social media use, but in 2020 it seems to have become another sort of pandemic with inaccurate, misleading, and false posts about coronavirus, lockdowns, public health, the presidential election, riots, protests, racism, etc. Due to the popularity and widespread use of social media sites and personal blogs we have all become “influencers”, like it or not.

Influencer- one who exerts influence: a person who inspires or guides the actions of others

merriam-webster.com

The professional media is often criticized for biased reporting, but we social users are not without fault. We should act as responsibly as we expect them to.

I don’t mean we shouldn’t share opinions or feelings about valid information. Nor am I suggesting we should stifle creative thinking or alternate conclusions drawn from established facts. And by no means am I promoting censorship of unpopular ideas or trampling our Constitutional right to free speech. (Amendment 1).

I am talking about responsible use of media, especially social media. (I am mainly addressing Facebook use because I use it the most. But I think these principles apply to the other sites.) Separating valid news reports from opinion, satire, advertising, press releases, and advocacy promotion is hard when friends are sharing them as facts or even “the truth”.

9 possible solutions

I suggest 9 strategies to help us post responsibly and productively. I created these from my own thoughts, observations of posts both good and bad, and from ideas on other blogs and websites.

I’m using genuine examples from posts that I have seen but altered them enough to preserve others’ privacy. I don’t want to shame or embarrass anyone, but I do want to raise awareness so we can all make social media more honest and valuable. I need to observe these as much as anyone, and I hope you and my social media friends and followers will hold me accountable too.

1. Post with purpose

Have a purpose when you share. Is it to inform, entertain, amuse, educate, challenge, ventilate, express opinion? If you don’t know, the reader may not know either. The content should match the purpose.

hands keyboarding

2. Express yourself

Your friends are more interested in what you think than what “a friend of a friend” thinks. Express yourself in your own words, give examples, tell a story, rather than “copied and pasted” or “stole this from a friend”.

I found a handy image meme thing that uses fancy words, giving it the appearance that it uses science to defend my opinion position on a topic… I’m going to post it and use it as my argument to be my voice

a friend’s satirical post

3. Consider the source

Choose your sources wisely when sharing. Blogger Shannon Coleman (ofthe hearth.com) writes

You may love and trust your friends and family members, but it is time to ask some tough questions in regards to what they share.

 If you don’t know the author ,check them out; go to their profile and see how they present themselves. Is this someone you want to be identified with?

4. Confirm the facts-who, when, where

Facts -names, dates, places- can and should be verified. Check it out. If you can’t find it somewhere else on the internet by a reliable source, you should question the accuracy.

Copied & pasted, also not sure how accurate the numbers are, haven’t had time to research and the news started coverage but still good food for thought:

a friend’s post for real

5. Tell us what and why

Why are you sharing this post? Cartoons or cat videos probably don’t need explanation, but narratives do. Tell us why this piece is share-worthy.  Did you learn something from it? Do you find it inspiring or motivating? Did it anger you? If I read it, what benefit can I expect?

Maintain a healthy dose of skepticism. Don’t believe everything you see, read, or hear, even when it corroborates what you already believe. As a child, I was taught to “play Devil’s advocate” and look at the opposite side of my own argument. I think that ability can serve well in these times.

a wise friend

6. Share videos with value

Respect your friends’ valuable time. Inviting them to devote precious minutes to a video that “you have to watch before it’s taken down” is a good way to lose friends if it doesn’t measure up.  

Many videos have a caption that introduces the content. If it doesn’t then you should  compose a succinct paragraph so they’ll know what they’re missing if they choose to pass. (and of course you’ve already done the above source and fact checking before you shared it.)

Here’s how I introduced a video of an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci about COVID-19.

“Dr. Fauci discusses the “easy six” ways to control the pandemic.”

Dr. Aletha

7. Report numbers and statistics accurately

Numbers should illustrate a story, not be the story. Statistics need context and interpretation. The more complex the math, the more commentary is needed to draw any valid conclusions. Most of us didn’t take enough advanced math courses in school to draw valid conclusions. When someone posts a chart with percentages and calls it “perspective”, be cautious.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, relying on false statistics can have serious consequences if people use them to make health decisions. An  incident with statistics incorrectly attributed to the Alabama Public Health Department illustrates the potential problem.

“It’s certainly not our chart or something we’d put out, It’s similar to charts we’ve seen around for the last five months. It has updated numbers. We’ve seen a lot of people cherry-picking the stats that prove whatever point they want to make. You just hope people realize that there’s a bigger picture.”

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris

8. Pause before sharing photos

A photo can tell a story without words; but just like with words, that story can be false. A photo can be fact-checked, by finding the original source and whether it’s been edited or manipulated. Here’s where you can do that.

Google Images
TinEye Reverse Image Search

9. Share facts not fear

People use fear to motivate and manipulate. Using phrases like “they don’t want you to see this”, “share before they remove it ”, and words like racist, fascist, communist, conspiracy, censored, socialist, control, right, left, etc. imply an urgency that usually isn’t realistic or rational. Sharing verifiable information allows your friends to draw their own conclusions based on fact not fear. 

In an article about the proliferation and promulgation of conspiracy theories, Andrew McDonald of Christianity today wrote

conspiracy theories play upon our fear by supplying a more powerful emotion: rage. Fear can so quickly morph into anger because it provides an object: they are to blame, they caused this, they deserve retribution.

Andrew MacDonald
In summary, THINK before you post or share

Words have power, so it matters how we use them. If we make a mistake and share something false, misleading, or inaccurate, then we should correct it. If warranted, delete it, and explain why.  

Harvard School of Public Health recommends we THINK twice before posting or sharing on social media-

  • Is it TRUTHFUL?
  • Is it HELPFUL?
  • Is it INSPIRING?
  • Is it NECESSARY?
  • Is it KIND?

Using Our Online Conversations for Good

If you’re interested in a Christian viewpoint on social media use, consider this book by Daniel Darling, an author and pastor. (this is an affiliate link)

Daniel Darling believes we need an approach that applies biblical wisdom to our engagement with social media, an approach that neither retreats from modern technology nor ignores the harmful ways in which Christians often engage publicly. 

 

Amazon

And in case you’d like to watch it, here is the video that prompted this post, The Ticket Without a Seat– and I still don’t know if it won an Academy Award, but I doubt it. Let me know if you find out otherwise-using the above suggestions, of course.

exploring the HEART of responsible social media use

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

By following, you will get notified of my next post -a list all of the references I used for this post as well as some others.

cheesy-free faith-focused stock photos

Photos and graphics in this post are from Lightstock-quality photos and graphics site- start free trial and get 4 free credits here. 

(This is an affiliate link)

Please share this post on your social media sites so together we can make the social world safer, friendlier, and trustworthy. Thanks.

                              Dr. Aletha 

An apple a day…

If you struggle with sadness, despair, depression, or other persistently negative feelings, please talk to clergy, a physician, or mental health professional to help you regain hope and joy.

It’s probably a myth that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but I hope it’s true for comics, cartoon, and jokes.

Every Friday on Facebook I share a “Funny”. Here are three recent ones with some affiliate links (use of them supports this blog’s mission). Nothing serious today, just enjoy. Maybe you’ll feel better too.

Thanks to Andertoons.com for sharing this cartoon

Dan Piraro at Bizarro Comics is one of my favorites

There’s really nothing funny about the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, but humor can help us cope with the stress.

From Speed Bump by Dave Coverly

If you are cheerful,

    you feel good;

    if you are sad,

    you hurt all over

Proverbs 17:22, CEV

Contemporary English Version®
Copyright © 1995 American Bible Society. All rights reserved.

sharing the HEART of health with humor

I hope you enjoyed these cartoons and feel a little more cheerful . If you struggle with sadness, despair, depression, or other persistently negative feelings, please talk to clergy, a physician, or mental health professional to help you regain hope and joy.

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

                              Dr. Aletha 

Are advanced weight management options right for you

So who should consider advanced weight loss options? Anyone whose weight is excessive enough to be a health problem.

What should you do if you have tried everything to lose weight and still have excess pounds (or kilograms) that you need or want to lose?

Consult your physician

If you haven’t already, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can evaluate your weight in the context of your total health. Perhaps you have medical conditions or medications that promote weight gain or make weight loss more difficult. You may need to address those before any weight loss plan will be successful.

Beyond that, you and your doctor might then consider weight loss medications. In general, they can be helpful in the short run which may get you started with sustained weight loss, but in general none of them have proven as successful and doctors and patients would like. This post describes what’s available now.

Collage of Various Types and Colors of Medication

How to lose weight when nothing else has worked.

In helping people lose weight, there is a significant gap that needs to be closed. When diet/exercise fails, we need something less invasive  before resorting to surgery with its significant risks and complications. One option is prescription medication.

This information is current as of the publication date; it is general medical information that helps a doctors and patients make decisions about what is right for them. Medical recommendations and practice changes as we learn new things. If you deal with any of these issues , please discuss with your doctor before taking any action.

Options beyond lifestyle alone

someone standing on a scale
New weight loss options are good news.

So who should consider advanced weight loss options? Anyone whose weight is excessive enough to be a health problem. In general this is considered to be those with

  • a BMI, body mass index, of 40 or greater.
  • a BMI of 30- 35 and certain medical conditions especially type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and sleep apnea

Calculate your BMI here.

Benefits of weight loss

Although these can be true even for people with lower BMI , when those with BMI 30+ lose weight, they can experience

  • improved blood glucose control in diabetics
  • lower cholesterol
  • lower blood pressure
  • less sleep apnea
  • less urinary incontinence
  • less back and joint pain
  • lower risk of many types of cancer
  • less gastroesophageal reflux-heartburn

Weight-loss Devices

The FDA regulates four devices intended for weight loss in certain adult patients age 18 and older.

Gastric Band –

bands are placed around the top portion of the stomach leaving only a small portion available for food.

Lap-Band Adjustable Gastric Banding System

Electrical Stimulation Systems –

electrical stimulator is placed in the abdomen to block nerve activity between the brain and stomach.

The Maestro Rechargeable System is implanted under the skin; an intermittent pulse generator delivers an electrical signal to the vagus nerve in the abdomen. The vagus nerve controls stomach action; when slowed down, one feels full sooner and theoretically will eat less. However, the company has not marketed it since 2018.

Gastric Balloon Systems

inflatable balloons are placed in the stomach to take up space and delay gastric emptying

The ReShape Integrated Dual Balloon System was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in July 2015. Apollo Endosurgery purchased it in 2018 and replaced it with their existing product the Orbera Gastric Balloon.

The company claims patients with Orbera experience three times more weight loss than diet & exercise alone and are provided with the right tools and resources to successfully learn to keep it off.

The device is placed into the stomach by going through the mouth and down through the esophagus with a tube called an endoscope. It takes about 30 minutes and requires on a mild sedative, not general anesthesia. Once in the stomach the “balloons” are inflated; by taking up space in the stomach it can trigger a feeling of fullness.

Gastric Emptying Systems

a tube is inserted between the stomach and outside of abdomen to drain food after eating

This device is called AspireAssist. This is a tube inserted into the stomach, from which a portion of the stomach contents can be “aspirated” (sucked out) after eating. The company claims patients lost 3 times more weight than those who received only diet and exercise counseling. The most successful patients lost over 100 pounds in the first year.

People lose weight with these devices largely due to the intensive counseling and support they received along with use of the device.

I encourage you to follow the links to learn more about each device.

 

tape-403591_1280
Obesity is defined using BMI, body mass index, but waist circumference is also important and may be more accurate.

Bariatric surgery

Two procedures comprise the majority of operations done to help people lose significant amounts of weight.

Sleeve Gastrectomy

In this procedure, a surgeon trained in bariatric procedures removes a large portion of the stomach.

The new, smaller stomach is about the size of a banana. It limits the amount of food you can eat by making you feel full after eating small amounts of food.

Gastric bypass

There are 2 steps during gastric bypass surgery:

In the first step the surgeon uses staples to divide the stomach into a small upper section and a larger bottom section. The top section, about the size of a walnut (called the pouch)will receive the food one eats. It holds only about 1 ounce (oz) or 28 grams (g) of food, causing one to eat much less.

The second step is the bypass. The surgeon connects a small part of the small intestine (the jejunum) to a small hole in your pouch. The food will now travel from the pouch into this new opening and into the small intestine. As a result, the body will absorb fewer calories.

Thus weight loss occurs from eating less and absorbing less food.

A success story

After gaining weight with her pregnancies, one woman , J.T. ,successfully lost weight with gastric bypass surgery.

I gained over 100 lb after my pregnancies. When my family doctor diagnosed me as borderline diabetic with high cholesterol, I panicked. Discouraged after failing numerous diets, I felt hopeful when I read about gastric bypass.

Learn about the lifestyle changes she made at this article from American Family Physician journal

 

Review these other posts about weight management
Obesity and BMI defined
How we should view excess weight 
How effective are weight management programs? 
A success story; how a doctor helped her patient lose weight
When diet alone doesn’t work
and, one of my all time most read posts

How my friend lost weight and inspired others with her example

exploring the HEART of achieving a healthy weight

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

                              Dr. Aletha 

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