The Impact of Social Media on Critical Thinking

In a recent post, I discussed the importance of taking a deeper examination into statistics to understand true meaning and impact of the message.  However, the source is equally important.  On nearly a daily basis I see people post and re-post inaccurate information on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc because the information “sounds good.”   Just because something sounds like it could be true does not mean that it is true.

What has social media done to our natural sense of curiosity and critical thinking?  If something is tweeted by a trusted friend on Twitter, does that make it true?  If something is re-tweeted multiple times, does that make it true?  Does the source of information even matter in the world of Social Media?  How many times have you looked to Wikipedia to answer your question and then looked no further to verify that information?

I’m as guilty as anyone of checking my critical thinking at the door when I read some blog/Twitter posts.  If Guy Kawasaki says something is cool, then I’m first in line to buy it.  I’m a big fan of Guy, and have a high level of trust in his opinions.  But when I trust someone so much that I fail to use my own critical thinking ability, I have failed myself.

We must remember that creating a blog, twitter post, website, Wikipedia entry, etc is unbelievably simple and can be done by anyone.  Those people may or may not post factual information. It is up to us to be on guard and constantly put critical thinking before blind trust in social media sources.

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Editor’s Note: Breanne Harris is the Solutions Architect for Pearson TalentLens.  She works with customers to design selection and development plans that incorporate critical thinking assessments and training.  She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and has experience in recruiting, training, and HR consulting.  She is the chief blogger for Critical Thinkers and occasionally posts at ThinkWatson.  Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter for more of her thoughts.

One response to “The Impact of Social Media on Critical Thinking”

  1. chadfife

    I heard Guy speak at a Startup conference back in the dotcom era… I really like him and his book Rules for Revolutionaries!

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