Countering disinformation and fake news

This short film from 2014 is still highly relevant today. It describes how Russia’s President Putin (and others) have used disinformation and fake news to undermine people’s perception and understanding of the world.

As the film explains, this approach is deliberately intended to create so much confusion and churning in our mind that we no longer understand what is happening: who is doing what, or why.

In the face of such confusion, the film says, our only response is to say “Oh dear” and give up…

But there is another, more useful, response.

That is to get clearer on who we are, what matters most to us, and what we are doing to achieve it.

The clearer we become about these three things, the less the fake news matters — for four reasons.

First, the better we know what our own priorities are the less of the fake news will be relevant to us — so we can ignore it and get on with achieving our own priorities.

Second, even if a piece of fake news is relevant to us, it doesn’t alter what we are working to achieve, though it might affect how we work to achieve that. Now our focus can switch from asking “Is this story true?” to “If it is true, do I need to do anything different?” Again this keeps us focused on achieving our goals, and makes them more likely to happen.

Third, if it does turn out that the fake news prevents us from achieving our objective then knowing our purpose and values makes it easy to find other ways to achieve the same purpose and values. This maintains our morale and enables us to keep us moving forward.

And fourth, the more strongly we are inspiring ourselves and the people around us to build what we most care about, the less the fake news matters — because the more we have an inspired team of people, longing to get to where we want to go, the more we can make it happen, whether the news is fake or not.

So the clearer we are about who we are, what matters most to us, and what we are doing to achieve that, then the more our response to fake news can shift from “Oh dear” to “So what?”

How often do you find yourself distracted by news (fake and real) that won’t really affect you? Do you know your purpose and values? Are you working to bring them to life?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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