Before You Vote: Vote on the Truth, Not on your Truthiness.

While I may be one of the only people still undecided for the upcoming election, I came across something today that I thought was important to share with you all. A girl I know posted a video on her Facebook status and I had nothing better to do except check it out (and by that I mean, of course I had a million things better to do but procrastination seemed like the best choice).

Anyway she posted this video showing John Mccain from last March swearing numerous times to an NY Times reporter.

It already has over one hundred thousand views.

The only problem is: it’s not true. Far from it actually.

Take a look at the ORIGINAL video; it is true that the clip is showing McCain on edge when being pressed about his private conversations with John Kerry. However, he did not swear during the interview. Not even once. And now, because some guy with too much time on his hands got crafty with his computer gadget editing tools, over one hundred thousand people are judging his character over something that is just not true.

So, I’m just writing to remind you that no matter who you plan to vote for, do your research – on both sides. It’s so easy to believe the first audio snippet you hear or YouTube clip you see, but the fact of the matter is, the media loves to sensationalize and turn everything into breaking news (i.e. Jamie Lynn Spears being knocked up for the second time). (Editor’s Note: WHAT!? That isn’t true?!)

As a journalism major, I learned the importance of fact checking EVERYTHING with at LEAST two credible sources. Even minor things. My job would be so much easier if I passed things along without verifying their validity first; I would have a lot more time for Happy Hours and keg stands, for one. But, if that was the case, I also would have probably passed on hundreds of things that I thought to be true or accurate on first glance that turned out to be so 1000% false.

Things get taken out of context more often than not and the fact is, once something is out there, you can’t take it back and opinions are formed based on things that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I went to a friend’s synagogue over the Jewish High Holiday, Yom Kippur and the rabbi made a really interesting point with his sermon. He was talking about how we are all bit hearing impaired; not because we’ve spent the better part of our high school days at obnoxiously loud Backstreet Boys concerts (or was that only me?!), but because we choose what to hear and what not to. Stephen Colbert refers to this as truthiness.

The Rabbi referred to some book/study (the name I can’t remember), saying that, basically, once we believe something to be true, we only pay attention to things that prove that point. For example, if you believed wholeheartedly that Britney Spears can sing, you are more likely to tune out on the TV segment, or skip over an article in the paper, whose headline seemed to be trying to prove why in fact, she really can’t. Instead you would only focus on the articles that seemed to assure you that you are right in your beliefs. And since it’s hard to find an unbiased media source these days, it’s so easy for us to find what we want to hear and believe to be true instead of what actually is true.

So in the next few weeks, I ask that you don’t forward an email or a YouTube clip on without knowing if it is categorically correct. This does nothing more than a disservice to others… and to yourself. Before you believe what you hear spewed out by commentators, newspapers, and even the candidates themselves at debates/interviews, follow up and do the research.

So here’s to not skipping over this.

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