It’s easy to radicalize yourself online. It’s easy primarily because there are a myriad of sources for you to pull your influence from, as well as a myriad of ways for you to consume information. Its woes, however, are far less concrete than those for people who radicalized “irl” through reading groups and social activism, as with infinite information comes infinite disinformation. This disinformation can even come through people who you once thought were your friends, now posting pro-eugenics policies on their Facebook timeline, and the skills required to break through this disinformation and learn something that enables you to be more open-minded are hard to come by. So how is this even supposed to be done? What should I do when I google for fact-checking and even top google results cannot be trusted?
My answers are entirely instinctual and my approach is as follows:
If you’re reading an article from the Daily Mail that sounds incorrect, please check for the article's sourcing. I tend to trust sources that are based around academic research, but that in itself requires you to read the paper in its entirety, as snippets are often used to provide conclusions that, in actuality, were not in the cited paper.
If you are on an online thread and someone makes a claim you find to be outlandish, it’s always worth asking why they feel that way (if an opinion), where they heard this information, and if their personal conclusion matches up with the intent of the piece from which they gathered their opinion.
STAY IN TOUCH:
Being not only aware of local organizing but actively in touch with and participating in it is key, primarily due to the physical contact you have with the respective parties. A lot of the times, stereotypes are presumed to be reflective of the respective group they’re about, and differentiating between media portrayals and real life is the most important thing in a society that is constantly pushing new media.
Nowadays, there are a myriad of ways for you to read or otherwise engage with academic (or non-academic) political theory, and finding what fits you personally is an important step to developing your own theory (that is hopefully based in reality and lived experience).
I’m not the best at time management, but my last bit of advice would be to dedicate yourself to improving your political literacy at least one hour a week; this will enable you to engage in future discussions with a more open mind and with facts that support your beliefs. Everything is simpler than it seems. If you have difficulties breaking through gatekeeping in your organization or your local climate, it’s important to view your comrades as equals and know when it’s time for you to leave a space where your voice is not appreciated.