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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

There is a Socrates quote that I absolutely love and stand by: “True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” Basically, Socrates is telling us to shut up, stop giving our opinions on things we know nothing about and realize that we don’t know as much as we think we do. I think that this is such an important quote, mostly because it applies so much to today’s culture. Everyone is so willing to give their two cents about a situation or problem, yet they know nothing about the truth of it. Sometimes it is just better if people learn how to shut up.

From completely outrageous to dead serious, the types of claims being made by people all over the internet can keep someone entertained for days. Just recently, I saw that someone on TikTok was claiming that the Roman Empire wasn’t real. While most people found that ridiculous, some historians on the app found themselves having to defend the existence of the time period. It is crazy that just because someone says something on the internet others take it as fact instead of doing the research themselves, even when those claims seem preposterous. 

While there has always been the threat of misinformation on the internet, it seems like the number of people giving their opinions has had more of an effect the past couple of years. Around the 2016 election, the term “fake news” became a commonplace phrase. If someone did not agree with something being reported on, they brushed it off as simply “fake news.” People were looking toward other “sources” that either backed their own opinions or held favor towards themselves. By brushing different opinions off as “fake news” and claiming their own opinions as fact, the increase in distrust only causes more chaos and confusion.

There are several things that need to happen to help solve this problem. I think by looking at this Socrates quote we can learn the first step. 

Step Number One: We all need to realize that we are not as smart as we think we are and will never know about everything we come across. Each person has different interests and backgrounds. As a communication student, I would not tell pre-med students how they should deal with an illness. Just like how I would expect them to not tell me about the best ways of interacting with the media. It is all about knowing what you truly know. While everyone should be able to express their opinions, people should consider the effect of their words before sharing them with a larger audience. 

Step Number Two: If you come across something and feel like giving your opinion, make sure what you post is truthful. Don’t decide to post something that you just heard from another person or thought was a better take on an issue. Do research before making your voice heard. With thousands of people spewing nonsense, either post well-researched information or don’t post at all. 

As someone that is literally studying the effect media has on the masses, I think it is so important that people take care when posting. We have all heard the phrase “think before you speak.” I think that we also need to “think before we post or comment.” If you are going to speak out, do it with intent, and if you cannot add something important or intelligent, simply shut up.

Mary Beth attends Saint Louis University and is studying communications and history. She loves to travel and has a major addiction to books.