Access to Information for Everyone (in the Age of “Fake News”).

In the modern world, information is as free flowing as it’s ever been in history thanks to the internet and our general connectivity to each other. But does this mean we’re more informed?

In recent times, we have all been introduced to a concept that has now become so omnipresent as to barely be able to talk about anything without it coming up. And no, I’m not actually talking about COVID-19 here either… I’m referring, of course, to ‘fake news’.

Conspiracy theories have been around for as long as we have been able to talk to each other, but the more recent phenomena of fake news has got everybody untrustworthy of everybody else. Do these crystals cure covid?! Is 5G a plot by Bill Gates to control us all?! Was the US election rigged?! DOES SANTA CLAUS EVEN EXIST?!

Finding the right information from the right source can be very difficult at the best of times, let alone whilst the internet exists to give everyone a platform to say whatever they want. The internet also makes it easy to distort and manipulate information too, which makes it even harder to know how to understand what we are being told. Some (perhaps not too nice) people know that it is this easy to confuse us and use the fact that complicated information is hard to digest for a lot of us as a way to muddy the waters! This only leads to more confusion, more distrust and more uncertainty.

Now this conundrum isn’t just isolated to miracle covid-cures, or even just to science. This is a phenomena that affects all of us in some way. Accessing the right information can be hard, because information is almost always delivered with some kind of bias – this is the nature of humans: we are not unbiased by any stretch of the imagination! This, however, doesn’t need to mean that no information source should be trusted. What we need to do is learn how to look further into information, or ask questions of the right people about it, to get to a decision about what best works for us.

It is with this in mind that Reach Social Supports has begun thinking about ways to deliver information to our clients, but also to be able to help spread the information further afield. We are adamant that forging communities is the best way to help people on their healthcare journeys. We also know that community doesn’t necessarily just mean people you live near or work with – it can mean people with whom you can share, question, understand and critically analyse information with. It can be a place that you can go (physical or digital) to ask simple questions that might have complicated answers, or complicated questions that might have simple answers! Ultimately, a community is a group of people who trust each other with information.

So what are we doing about this? To begin with, we are making some infographics about common questions and problems that our clients have been interested to know about, and we wish to share these with the wider community so that others may be able to learn from it too. We wanted to make sure that it could be used by someone who was looking to answer these questions themselves, but also to be used by someone (say a carer) who was helping someone to answer these questions. We want to include the community (physical and other) in the sharing and distribution of this information in order to be able to create trust amongst each other again. And we wanted to do it in a way that included everybody – hence we have begun making the first of these infographics in both full-text and easy-read versions, available on our website for everyone to see, use and learn from.

Head to our resources section to see these infographics, and share them with whoever you think might benefit from the information in them.