We are arguably witnessing one of the most cantankerous political seasons in modern history. Every four years, we expect to hear some mudslinging between candidates, sit through hours of debates and for many of us, silently fear for the future of our country.
This season, however, has been a whole new ballgame. From Twitter wars and rampant insults, to email investigations and violent protests, this political season has been particularly overwhelming. Living in an era of easily accessible content and 24-hour news channels, it’s nearly impossible to avoid mental overload.
Even beyond the issue of sheer information overload, though, is the issue of truth. As Christians, we should not only be actively seeking the truth, but we should refuse to spread untruths—and there are always plenty of those floating around the internet, especially during an election year.
The Onion is one thing, but with “satire” sites like NBC.com.co—notice the .co part— spreading stories like “Donald Trump Makes Sheriff Joe Arpaio His Vice Presidential Running Mate” and “Bill Murray Shocks The Country: I Am Running For President In 2016” all over Facebook feeds, often truth is the minority of what we see and read.
I think many of us (myself included at times) have let our dislike of particular politicians skew our ability to exercise discernment. I see it over and over again on social media. Politics are polarizing, but that doesn’t excuse us from the responsibility to be representatives of “whatever is true” and to “speak the truth in love.”
There are a several ways we can help navigate ourselves toward understanding and sorting the real from the really fake:
Get Your Information From Reputable News Sources
Granted, it’s pretty difficult to find an unbiased news source. Using several sources instead of just sticking to one specific news channel or website helps me to get a more balanced viewpoint.
I’ve also noticed an influx of blogs and opinion pieces being shared as “fact” all over social media. Tread lightly there. Often, those pieces are very exaggerated.
Utilize Fact-Check Sources
We could spare ourselves so much anger and fear if we made fact-checking a part of the routine when hearing something outrageous about a political situation or politician. There are great websites that can help separate the facts from the fiction.
FactCheck.org is a great resource owned by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and is described as “A nonpartisan, nonprofit, ‘consumer advocate’ for voters, the Annenberg Political Fact Check aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.”
Make Truth the Priority
When we have a bias against someone, it’s so easy to want to believe something negative or infuriating about them. We want to be validated and our anger to be justified. True justice, however, comes from truth.
There are usually more than enough facts floating around that may make you think twice about any political candidate. If you find yourself fact-checking to validate your emotions rather than seek the truth, you may want to hold off on posting.
We can always find something that makes us angry if that’s what we’re looking for.
Believing things that are untrue, or spreading sensationalized or outrageous stories isn’t Christlike. If we want to make our decisions with wisdom, discernment and humility, we have to become seekers of the truth.