Monday Motivation: Discernment
Updated: Mar 3, 2020
Hmmm...where to begin with this one? Well, let's just take a deep breath and jump right in, I guess: Please do not put frozen potatoes in your butt to try and cure hemorrhoids. Yeah, it seems like something that probably didn't need to be said, but judging from the news articles and the Instagram post that I saw about it, some people are trying to cure their hemorrhoids with this frozen potato method. Doctors are saying that there is no evidence that this works. My general feeling is that anytime you are thinking about inserting something into a place in your body it does not ordinarily go, some heavy research is necessary. This way you can determine whether the latest alternative cure is legit or just something that some shadowy "health guru" is making up from the comfort of their den.
Now you might be thinking: how is this a "Monday Motivation" post? Most people don't have to be motivated not to put frozen potatoes into their bodies. Well, this post is more about how we should be motivated to protect ourselves from false information, scams, and the like. It's sad to think about, but some people really do just get on the internet to spread disinformation or to scam/harm vulnerable people. I don't like using the term "fake news" because I believe that Trump has used it to undermine credible news sources and to try to convince the American people that the news media is "the enemy of the people." (Really. Some of his supporters are using that very Stalinist phrase to describe news outlets they disagree with.) Instead of "fake news," I'd like to use the term "unfounded information." And, as we've seen over the past few years, there is an overabundance of unfounded information on the internet.
Not a month goes by when I don't get some sort of scam call or spam email telling me that Social Security is going to cancel my Social Security number or the IRS is coming to get me if I don't send them hundreds of dollars in gift cards or that Netflix is going to cancel my account if I don't provide more personal information. (Of course the "Netflix" site where the link takes me is a very poor duplicate of the actual Netflix site, complete with misspellings and grammatical errors.) It seems like scammers and false information are everywhere. So what can we do?
As I mentioned earlier, one thing we can do with health questions is to run it by our doctors. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a doctor (sigh. It would be amazing if everyone had access to good health care but to quote a Lauryn Hill song to our politicians: "it could all be so simple/ but you'd rather make it haaaaaaaaaard." Instead, maybe looking out for information from Health and Human Services or reading articles from respected medical journals by respected medical professionals is a way of protecting ourselves from false information and hysteria. And then using our best judgment. Some of the articles we find online will be bunk.
We should be cognizant of others' biases as well as where they are getting their information from. A small boy died from the flu recently after his mother decided not to give him medication on the advice of an anti-vaxxer Facebook group. These people believed the mother should heal him using alternative medicine.
We can use certain questions to evaluate most things we hear, whether we are listening to politicians, sales people, news outlets, etc. 1. What is this person trying to achieve? 2. What is their bias? 3. How do they benefit from this? 4. What are the ramifications of what they are trying to do? 5. What do I know about this person/business/party/outlet? (And then doing our own research.)
This might sound like a ramble of a post, but I've been thinking lately about how information can be twisted into untruths and how what I'm absorbing from politicians/officials, what I've absorbed through news articles, radio programs, television shows, podcasts, etc. is affecting me.
We are in the information age, as they say. Unfortunately, some of that information is false. And we are in the position of having to sort through it and determine what is real and what isn't. Now excuse me while I go slather myself in margarine- I've heard that it protects against colds. (The virus just slides right off ya.)
Tl,dr: Doctors say don't put cold potatoes in your butt to treat hemorrhoids (no mention of whether you can continue to do it for recreational purposes.) Look out for false information on the internet and look for underlying bias.