If you’re in my field you run across the advection-dispersion-reaction equation a lot. While I will not delve into the scientific aspect of the equation, what made me think of it is: News. Yes, news. Local news, world news. Whatever news. The instantaneous-ness (repeat this word three times if you can) of news [actually repeat the whole sentence three times if you can]. When the #Westgate attack happened, I knew about it immediately. We had just finished lunch and I opened twitter and was wondering why a lot of people in Kenya were talking about #Westgate. The first tweets coming in were of people who thought it was ‘just a robbery’. So naturally, I myself thought it was a robbery as well and I made the mistake of spreading that news to my immediate family [dispersion].
Following the news on twitter made me think of how at some point, getting the news to the public was the task of journalists in media houses. Now with the spread of social media, anybody who can type (even if they cannot spell) can go with the flow [advective term], become the source of news [ the reactive term] and spread the news [dispersion term]. Now what is happening is the big media houses ride on the social media wave and start believing and spreading without verifying their sources, like the time some big media houses (*C*ough*N*N*cough*) have fallen for fake twitter accounts. The dangerous cumulative result is that social media helps in building gossip centers, fanning the fire and one is left wondering who to trust anymore. And funny enough, sometimes we end up trusting bloggers with no official titles because of their work ethics and how accurate their ‘rumors’ turn out to be.
There’s no big conclusion that the scientific advection-dispersion-reaction equation can help with in this situation. It just describes the news situation as it currently is. But I guess Edgar Allan Poe was right when he said, “Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear.” Because nowadays, twitter handles have provided microphones for just about anybody to blabber anything they want. It can be a good thing for the creative community of course, but when it comes to spreading news and ‘facts’, people have to share responsibly.
So I guess that’s my message for tonight; whenever you share something on social media, share responsibly.