Social media has killed the rational assessment of information, in favour of opinion over fact. As much as we all engage in, and enjoy the benefits of instant, global interaction with our friends at varying degrees, and interacted on special interest groups - it still remains a conversational, rather than discussion-based format that becomes largely meaningless over time.

Why? One of the reasons is the ever-changing aspect of it. The constant momentum of news, posts, advertising, holiday snaps and memes is great for entertainment, but not for any meaningful discussion as people in general psychologically respond to the formatting of a long block of text as TLDR. Networks such as Twitter, and the uptake of instant messaging has streamlined everyone's thoughts into bite size chunks to be easily consumed, as our lives have becomes busier and more hungry for information. The fact is, you can not condense important information into 120 characters, or a meme on facebook - but this is becoming the norm for most to forming opinion - especially for those living in a political echo chamber. Meme's with a sentence and somewhat related comical imagery, accompanied by it's decoration of popularity in the form of likes and comments is the new 'accepted line of thought', instead of a concerted, research-based effort into ascertaining fact to form an objective opinion. The irony is, with the incredible and convenient wealth of knowledge available to many at virtually any time or place here in the developed world, people choose to not take the simple step of typing or even speaking a query into google because it's just no longer worth their time. So, if it's not worth anyone's time to research into weather or not they agree with a meme or not, then how does it get accepted into opinion? Is it not easier to just not click on that 'like' button, and just let it fly past your attention, if you can not rationally accept its message? Perhaps when several friends have liked it, and commented on how much they agree with it, the temptation to just accept with without question is too great. Perhaps it is all down to one of the basic needs of human beings. Interaction and acceptance. The reaction too is based on the moment, where emotional response precedes rational response.

Thankfully, there is an ever-growing mistrust of mass media that is becoming more and more evident. The recent Wikileak on the Democratic party's control over media channels over in the US and the fall of the insult to intelligence that was Gawker, people are starting to discuss and talk about new viewpoints, knowing their original sources we're proven corrupt. The recent (not entirely unjustified) attacks on Wikileaks too from the mass media, clutching at straws to attempt to claw back it's credibility have only compounded it's untrustworthy nature. It's a slow process, but this movement of rationality and freedom of speech is spreading across the internet faster than the established media can keep up, and the established narrative is being scrutinised. New sources are popping up, each with varying viewpoints, showing all sides on the dice of information for us to ascertain the real facts,and meme culture is beginning to adopt it. The mass media's attempts to quell this are predictable, with the very quick adaptation of the label 'the alt right' which has far too politically mixed personalities associated with the term to be definitively right leaning in the first place. They've even got Hilary Clinton saying it!

I, for one would love to see more people asking the irritating question "Can you prove this?" more often across the social sphere, and praise for people who at the very least cite their sources. I would also love to see more people liking and sharing posts with purpose other than to serve their own ego (virtue signalling), but in a world populated with frivolity and superfluous inconsequential interaction, it's not really going to happen any time soon. I guess what it call comes down to is managing your own interaction to get the most from it, to remove that which is disagreeable - but where's the fun without any challenge?

My hopes rest in future generations, so long as we teach them that questioning their world is acceptable discourse - and the root of true progression - and to always seek out the source of information for it's integrity.

Published by Amuro Rey