How we can easily be fooled

“News makes us passive. News stories are overwhelmingly about things you cannot influence. The daily repetition of news about things we can’t act upon makes us passive. It grinds us down until we adopt a worldview that is pessimistic, desensitized, sarcastic and fatalistic. The scientific term is “learned helplessness”. It’s a bit of a stretch, but I would not be surprised if news consumption, at least partially contributes to the widespread disease of depression. – (Excerpt from News Is Bad For You)

By Syazana Zahidah

Last week, Malaysians have been hoaxed by a teenage girl named Nur Athirah Amirah. The story began when she informed her mother that she has been kidnapped in a white van nearby Times Square in Kuala Lumpur. The nation went alert and started to give sympathy to her family due to the voicemail given by her sister. Following the ‘incident’ there were many postings on social media looking out for her.

However, it turned out to be a cock and a bull story when police managed to track down the girl who actually spent her time with her boyfriend, believed to be a Chinese boy, two years older than her. As a result of this epic story that was successfully pulled of by a teenager with hormone running high, there have been so many lessons that can be drawn and learned from the episode.

To put it simply, the wrong values have been instilled in her, and just too much hostility in the world, it seems. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense how on earth a 14-year old can plot a story line in order that Malaysians would believe she has been ‘abducted’ by criminals. This is probably because we have been thriving on crappy and depressing news. Murders, scandals and wars are always juicy stories that make headlines in newspapers. It keeps the papers loaded with stories that make readers wanting to rush to the nearest newspaper stand first thing in the morning.

We are not supposed to put all the blame on the 14-year old girl just because she managed to make the readers or the nation believed in her stories. It’s we, the readers, who are always being gullible of stories presented in the media like the newspapers, television and radio. Some netizens are too fast in spreading the news on social media without investigating thoroughly on the authenticity of such news.

As readers therefore, we should be very critical on what we read online or in the newspapers. Getting good education is superb but it’s just a waste if at the end of the day we become so ignorant.  Trust me, ignorance breeds a whole load of other problems. In this case, ignorance is on someone who reads news but never have the gut to check the sources of the news.

It’s worrying that people or readers choose not to do a bit more of research to find out the whole truth. These days, it’s like a competition, whoever spread the negative news faster they will gain more ‘Likes’ from the netizens. As if, the first person who shares first about a particular news item is totally reliable.

I am a firm believer of seeking knowledge. It’s good to be aware on what is happening around us, but consuming too much news is unhealthy. Don’t get me wrong, as a good reader, we should go to different sources and opinions but never get yourself so immersed in the news that makes you feel anxious, emotional and bitter. All in all, we can be of better service to society when our thoughts are not injected by negative sentiments. ***

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Syazana Zahidah ( nana uzir ) is the writer with a deep love of chocolate, positive quotes and a bookworm. She loves taking risks so that she won't regret in the future and she enjoys writing as much as she enjoys seeing sunset. After all, she is a hoper and a wisher.

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