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The etiquette of sharing news without looking like a misinformed douchebag.

A great way to start your new year right. If you find yourself suffering from FIRST syndrome, perhaps you may benefit from reading this simple guide to improve your online image in 2016. For those who aren’t familiar, FIRST syndrome is the online phenomenon where individuals have to be the first individual to share breaking news. In certain circumstances, alerting family and friends is greatly beneficial, perhaps your favourite team made a trade before the deadline, or maybe your favourite band is going on tour and tickets are now on sale.

When it comes to complex issues that requires more than a single line to explain, memes covering major events are usually littered with false information. Unfortunately, the average person avoids reading the articles attached to the memes, while sharing their personal opinion based on an image and a tagline (mostly click-bait). To make matters worse, for every individual posting misinformed content online there are several reading these posts forming their views without saying a word.

The following advice may be helpful information for you or anyone you know who is guilty playing news anchor online.

1) If you are going to share or post memes from the media, try to add an original thought instead of being a voiceless sheep.

Within the last few years, we have removed the word social from social media. We all know someone that always hits share and never has a comment. They are essentially the most useless individuals online, as they are merely flooding news feeds with content that may already be available to most. If one does not feel comfortable writing, they can could stick with the following template: write “This is ______ (bad, good)”. If you are afraid of explaining your point then you shouldn’t be sharing content.

2) If there is the slightest chance that the information on the post/meme is deceiving don’t post it, unless you want to share your concerns with the content in detail.

It may be difficult to comprehend; however, it is crucial to understand that some of your friends and family members are dumb. They are lovely, but they shouldn’t be trusted with important decisions. By sharing information that may negatively alter their limited perception of the world could have dire consequences. Don’t share content that may cause an outburst from a relative that will embarrass you and everyone around them.

3) Double check your resources, remember there are three sides to every story.

We are now living in the age of ad driven content; therefore, click-bait titles are used to drive traffic onto news sites. When a major event occurs and is condensed into a one-line summary, make sure that you are at the very least reading the content in full. As well, start taking the extra step to verify the source is accurate.

This may seem like a lot of work and it can be. Considering the current climate online with propaganda everywhere, we should all work towards a better world where we aren’t buying into fear mongering. For those who suffer from FIRST syndrome, you now have some homework.

All the best in 2016!

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