Wake up, sheeple! If you’ve ever found yourself wandering through social media, YouTube, or anywhere online, you’ve probably come across some bold claims. These can range from get-rich-quick schemes to heavily edited videos that obscure reality. The internet is a place where anyone can say anything, regardless of how true it is.
So what are we supposed to do about objectively wrong information? With the vastness of technology, it’s easy to connect with others who share similar viewpoints, whether silly or serious. Maybe it isn’t harmful to share opinions about whether pineapple should exist on pizza, but what about when online groups of anti-vaxxers, Holocaust deniers, or flat-earthers stake their claim?
Censorship is a bit of a buzzword nowadays. Mentioning it brings up thoughts of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and information forever being erased with only non-controversial knowledge remaining.
Even though multitudes of information exist showing the effectiveness of vaccines, the terrifying realities of the Holocaust, or the shape of the earth, still some flock to their groups. They become so lost in their own confirmation bias that all contrary information is ignored, or it’s considered to be nothing more than propaganda. If we try to remove this information, we may be met with a backlash of cries of censorship. Worse, it may cause some to grow even stronger in their beliefs; they may turn even more inward to find more like-minded people.
The reality is that removing bad information for the good of all is not censorship. Yes, it can be difficult to walk the line and determine that a piece of information is conclusively right or wrong. I understand the challenge stemming from deciding who gets to decide. The idea of eliminating information is scary; and, generally, I disagree with censorship.
However, while some may argue that all information is valid in creating a more well-rounded stance, the line has to be drawn when people’s lives and health are at stake.
To those who disagree with censorship, the problem goes deeper than just eliminating information. For parents whose children have serious health concerns, the idea of having a scapegoat can seem enticing. “No, it wasn’t your fault; it was because of a vaccine.”
For those who are willing to ignore facts, photographs, and scientists, it might be nice to feel as if they are the only educated ones. “Yes, we need to eliminate this information, but mostly to keep it from spreading to others.” “It isn’t censorship if it’s creating a healthier, better-informed society.”
With disease outbreaks unfortunately becoming more prevalent, eliminating an anti-vaxx Facebook page is doing a service to humanity by decreasing the chance of another person falling for its scare tactics.
Some companies, such as YouTube, have taken good steps by demonetizing conspiracy videos. However, what really needs to be done is education. It’s easy to say that, and I know it can seem awfully generic; however, the elimination of what is incorrect will never be enough unless it is replaced with truth.
It will take everyone working together, businesses and individuals, until society truly is woke — this time, to the truth.
Brooke Christenson is a student at Grand Rapids High School.