In the blogging community, reputation and recognition is a currency traded fervently between bloggers, users, and commentators. These two commodities are interlinked, and securing the right amount of both is key to success in a career as an online opinion writer.

I believe however, in a third commodity: whose absence is sometimes caused by the writer who overlooks its importance, or by an audience who fails to demand it. That third currency is quality content.

Whenever a new fad comes to light, everyone's running to jump on the bandwagon, especially online because views are the lifeblood that sustains websites and nurtures a webpage. You can see this happening whenever a viral video or post starts making very similar-sounding headlines in every site, blog, or page you follow. "[VIDEO]This woman pointed a gun at her kid... watch what happens next" Get ready for a major case of deja vu when everybody picks up on this story. "WOMAN AIMS WEAPON AT BOY, FULL FOOTAGE HERE" etc etc.

Some of them won't fact-check, as the recent "letters" that allegedly was written by Olympic shuttler Lin Dan to his rival LEE Chong Wei are a prime example of. Multitudes of blogs and websites reported it as genuine, until it was finally revealed to be a COMPLETE FICTION by a fan from China. In fact, the original posting of the 'letter' from Chinese media site Sina even had a caption that said specifically, "IF they [LEE and LIN DAN] would pen each other a letter, how would it go?" (translated from Chinese)

Now of course, there are blogs that do their homework, including who was one of the first to expose the truth behind the 'Lin Dan letters'. It would seem that we should applaud them, except this is what good journalism is supposed to be about in the first place.

As technology gets faster and cheaper, it comes with an overwhelming influx of information that we have to face every day. Even the most discerning netizen has trouble sifting through the mountains of posts, comments, and messages they receive each hour to separate truth from anything that is less than that: less than true. For it is not the lies that are the most deceptive, but half-truths which sound like it could almost be real. Especially when we want them to be.

Truthfullly, we want those letters from Lin Dan to be real. Because they show compassion, human kindness, honesty, and the true essence of sportsmanship. It is ironic that the letters themselves are a work of total fiction, written without malicious intent, but twisted into viral and engaging content and then promoted as promising and gilded truth by online media. The audience today are their own gatekeepers, and each person should examine what they read to the best of their ability.

Yes, I too am guilty of glancing over headlines without clicking into the article. Even in the industry of physical newspapers, it is accepted that people don't read a story from head to tail. But be particular, and be perceptive, not just of the things you read online but also of your surroundings. We function best as members of society when we are informed, with the truth. It is not only your power as a reader, but you have a right to know what is true and what is not. Exercise that right.

Published by Viktor Tey


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