Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.
- Yoda

If you’re an American, and apparently if you aren’t in America, there is a lot going on in both social media and anti-social media that begs for your attention. One of the on-going problems with modern society is that there is such high noise in the signal and it’s difficult for the human brain to apply filters, to sample, or to compress and process. And so ultimately most of what we hear and read turns in to…

FUD. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Today spotting FUD is as easy as going to Facebook, Twitter, or any news outlet. In the rush to get eyeballs, even when details are rather sparse, journalists and fake journalists spit out stats and stories with hyperbole and embellishment. A recent Gallup poll shows that only 32% of people say they have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in mass media. FUD as a tactic, sells advertising, convinces people of a stance, and ultimately pollutes your brain with dubious and/or negative information. We know the poison is there, but we drink it anyways. (Yes, I just FUD-ed you.)

Today, I challenged myself to get to the source of truth on current events. I read President Trump’s Executive Order limiting immigration. It was hard. I almost fell asleep. Twice. And at the end, I was still confused as to where people were getting their list of countries, whether or not it was true that Trump was only limiting countries in the area where he had no business ties, or whether it was a fact that it was the surrounding countries in these regions not on the list that had citizens commit terror acts that have killed Americans.

All that’s to say that I am frustrated and overwhelmed. I am frustrated with the FUD that both friends, acquaintances, journalists, and fake news propagate. I am frustrated that when I read these things I am immediately triggered and my cognitive confirmation biases take over. I am frustrated that we live in a world where the Chinese Exclusion Act has once again come up in conversation.

It doesn’t take much today for you and I to join in on the FUD and games. Add a #hashtag, share a link. Often all it takes is a sensational headline to take FUD to the masses. In audio processing there is a concept of low- and high-pass filters. A low-pass filter will block signals higher than a specific frequency, and will let the lower frequencies pass through. A high-pass filter will do the opposite. Add these together and you get a bandpass filter, which is exactly what we need to cut through the FUD.

We all have a role to play in filtering the FUD and it takes more thoughtfulness, more fact checking, and to be quick to listen and slow to speak. I am so guilty of adding to the flaming pile of dung, but from here on out I’m going to try my best to battle spreading FUD and hope you join me in the same.