Far too often people read or listen the headline or first part of a story and nothing more, filling in all the details in their mind. People also judge the information with filters based on their experiences or beliefs. In many cases, the story completely transforms into a different story as the person shares the story or comments about it.
No place is this more obvious than on Facebook, where people can be found arguing about any article, no matter what the content. It is very clear that people didn’t read the article when they make statements, such as, “Why didn’t they see a doctor?” when the article very clearly states that they had seen a doctor.
Another case that may not be as obvious is when people seem to have facts that go beyond the content of the article. It is possible that at times people have additional facts, but many times these additional facts are merely fiction invented in the mind of the reader. Likewise, the reader may associate other facts or ideas with the story based on their beliefs without any real connection between the two.
Sometimes the reader actually comes to believe that they know how all the parties involved felt in the situation stretching not only into unstated facts, but also into unstated emotions. Thus, attempting to drive the emotions of others hearing about or reading the story. Now, it is reasonable to sympathize with people in a story saying something, such as, “I imagine this had to be very difficult for the parents.” However, sometimes emotions get put directly on the people mentioned in the article without the reader having any knowledge of those emotions.
Last, but not least, is the people that intentionally don’t pay attention to the details or truths in a story because they have a different story that they want to tell. This shows up frequently in discussions about politics where the “real” story is irrelevant to some people or groups. If the story doesn’t match the story that person or group wants told, they simply skew the facts to tell a different version of the story.
Now, imagine that everyone read/listened to each story in its entirety, made up no new details, and conveyed information about the story as accurately as possible.
Wow! Wouldn’t that be refreshing? There would be much less misinformation floating around, less unfounded arguments, and more logical, non-emotional discussion of what is happening in the world. Imagine the amount of energy that would become available for other more productive activities!