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A little research on social media goes a long way

I have a complicated relationship with social media.

Once upon a time, I was a big supporter. I even created a social network tied to a magazine I used to run for live audio professionals. When I left that gig (a long and sad story that I should write about sometime), I had several websites for that audience as well as musicians in general and worship music teams working in churches. And we used what used to be called Twitter to drive traffic. I still have probably 10 or 12 accounts on that platform.

But they sit fallow now.

And like many of us, I used to basically live on Facebook. Plus there was the obligatory LinkedIn account which still sees a little use.

The list of reasons that I am largely inactive on my social channels is long, but it includes the way people treat each other when they are behind the protective layer of a keyboard and screen and the way false info can spread like wildfire and quickly become accepted as factual by people who are too lazy to do any actual research.

(Then there is the whole phenomenon of hundreds of people who I know only as a screen name wishing me a happy birthday or congratulating me on a work anniversary which I find super annoying but that is a Story For Another Day.)

But I do dip my toes in a little from time to time. As I’ve written about in the past, I recorded an album of my own songs and put it up on all of the streaming services about a year ago and had to do something to try to promote it that wouldn’t cost me any money cuz I was broke.

And I do lurk in the Review’s Facebook feed probably once a week for a few minutes. Mostly that is just a way to take the pulse of the community and look for story ideas I might have missed. And now, finally, we have come to the actual reason for this little screed.

Last week I came upon a post where someone had asked if anyone knew what was being planned for the property at 1404 Colorado St. Someone piped in and said it was going to be some kind of resource center for the homeless.

And people were off to the races.

No one asked where the info came from or questioned it. The “resource center” quickly became a “homeless shelter” and the thread just devolved into competing posts that appeared to be some kind of competition for who could be the most outraged.

But I thought it might be a story idea. So I did some research.

First I asked the city. The city manager came back and said that, based on a recent conversation with the owner, the info on Facebook was false. And I got contact info for the current owner.

The property has had some tough history. The credit union had the mortgage and foreclosed on it with a $2 million loan outstanding. According to a commercial real estate site, it was purchased in 2022 by the current owner for $1.6 million, which means they took a big loss.

I have reached out to the current owner about plans for the property but have not yet received a response. And, to be fair, the owner appears to be associated with a company called Silver State Health, which does have a number of associations with various groups working with homeless populations in Nevada. But they also do things like provide sports physical exams for kids in CCSD schools. They take care of vaccinations for CCSD schools.

It’s a factually-challenged post about a local property. It’s not a huge thing in the overall scheme of Life, the Universe and Everything. And trying to fight the tsunami of false info online is a fool’s errand.

But, we are headed into a year that is going to be a 158 on the 1-10 scale when it comes to contention. People are already at each other’s throats over politics and this kind of thread is just illustrative of something to avoid.

Trust in institutions ranging from government at all levels to virtually every form of media out there is at an all-time low. And, honestly, that lack of trust is deserved in many cases. For too many in government and media and academia, objective truth is little more than a distraction. All that matters to them is narrative.

Question: “Is this piece of info true?”

Answer: “Who cares? Does it advance the preferred narrative?”

Curing that particular disease is going to be a generational job. (See the previous reference to a fool’s errand.) But we can each do our part.

It’s not that hard. Just don’t share stuff online unless you are positive that it is objectively true. Before you comment and express your righteous outrage, take a breath. Maybe ask where the poster got this particular info. Do a little research. For example, getting some real info on the property in question here took less than five minutes.

Yeah, doing some research postpones that dopamine hit that tech companies count on our addiction to. But it is a small price to know you are not part of the problem.

Contact reporter Bill Evans at wevans@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401.

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