Ross: We live in a social media jungle where the predators will eat the gullible

Sep 22, 2022, 7:29 AM | Updated: Sep 23, 2022, 7:29 am

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There’s a news item about another stupid TikTok challenge, which I would usually ignore but I feel I have to mention it because it once again reveals the problem with trying to quash TikTok challenges, or any asinine social media contagion: warning about them just spreads the infection.

Professional misinformation researchers admit this, but they don’t know what else to do. They feel a professional obligation to warn people.

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In this case, it appears someone at a government agency saw a TikTok video they thought would encourage dangerous behavior and issued a news release that warned about the danger but also described the dangerous behavior, and thereby might have planted this stupid idea in the heads of people who’d never heard of it.

That’s why I’m being careful not to say what it is I’m talking about. Because it’s the only way I can avoid being part of the problem.

So why even bring it up?

Fair question. I bring it up because I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the only way to deal with contagious misinformation is to adopt the Darwinian solution. This means we need to accept that, over time, those species that can’t learn to identify the hazards in their environment eventually die out.

By now we should all be aware that there will always be someone trying to get us to dial a strange phone number, click on a misspelled email from Nigeria, or add an over-the-counter drug to an entrée. We have to accept that there is so much money in this business model, that any attempt at meaningful regulation will be futile, and warnings will go unheeded.

We live in a social media jungle where the predators will eat the gullible.

It’s probably too late to save this generation, but maybe there’s time to save the next one.

Children should be taught, from the time of their first words, only to trust information from boring sources. If it puts you to sleep, it’s more likely to be true.

As for video devices, teach your children from the moment of their first finger swipe, to believe nothing they see for the first time on a video device.

In my opinion, the only time a child should even look at a video device is when Grandpa calls. And that’s assuming you’re sure it’s Grandpa.

That’s why I’ve got my code word.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: We live in a social media jungle where the predators will eat the gullible