Letter: Don’t spread false information

Published 10:16 pm Friday, November 1, 2019

There are many moving parts to our community. It’s not easy bringing together the many people, organizations, funding sources, community support, legal requirements and everything else that goes into the numerous day-to-day events of a community, much less the large projects that are helping to propel our area forward as a wonderful place to live with a quality of life and economic base that will be here to provide a great place to live for generations to come.

There is one constant frustration when new things are in the works: misinformation. Over the past few years, I’ve witnessed firsthand the damage that gossip does to our community. Whether people are getting misinformation from social media, the coffee shop, a bar, their cousin who knows a guy whose neighbor attended a meeting or a talking squirrel, the results are usually the same. They lead to misinform the public, begin eroding support for great projects and give others the impression that our community isn’t moving forward.

When you spread false information, it is a slap in the face to people who work hard to make our community better. It’s a disservice to our community. It makes us look bad for companies and individuals who would potentially move here. It makes it less likely that good people will step up to the plate as volunteers.

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Part of this is the fault of community organizations. I’ve seen that as a community, we don’t do a great job of communicating strategically. We have many avenues of communicating, but they all have a bit of this and a bit of that rather than having one central place for the community and visitors to go for all their information.

However, I’d encourage all members of the community to think about where they get their information and how they disseminate it back out. We all want to be the person “in the know.” We all get caught up in the emotions running high with contentious topics. We all despise injustices we perceive and self-righteously take a stand against it. These are things almost all of us are guilty of, including myself.

My challenge to my neighbors is, when you hear information that sounds outrageous, ask yourself who you can turn to for the source. That should be someone in a position of management, on a board or committee or otherwise close to the decision-making process. I was unfortunately in the middle of topic recently on social media that took off based on misinformation. Knowing the facts and knowing that I couldn’t fully discuss the topic on social media because of legal and ethical issues related to having official conversations on social media, I tried to steer the crowd to who would have the facts, and which “facts” they were sharing were blatantly false. Several parties continued to spread the misinformation despite being told it was false. I know full well that I’m not going to change the minds of people who are committed to their false beliefs but want to make sure there is accurate information out there so their inaccurate information doesn’t influence others.

Brad Kramer

Albert Lea