Are You Committing ‘Intentional Ignorance’ in Scanning Headlines?

If you’re one of those folks who proudly claims you get your news on Facebook, are you committing ‘intentional ignorance’ as you browse what’s trending?

I read an interesting take on internet trolls on news sites in an OpEd column the other day. It’s the typical thoughts anyone who might work in the news business would have with respect to trolls on social media, and believe me, they’re out there.

But Richard Poll then adds this in The Utah Statesman:

The only time I allow a troll to really get to me is when I know they didn’t read anything more than the headline or the sentence-and-a-half that appears on Facebook. That is called intentional ignorance, and ignorance is not bliss. But that’s just my opinion.

As someone who spends a good deal of time on social media as part of the job, I’m always astounded by the percentage of people who comment on stories when it’s crystal clear that they haven’t read the story that has been posted.

Sometimes, it’s clear because they ask questions that the article — if they’d bothered to have read it — would have answered.

Sometimes, it’s clear because they go off on rants on “similar” situations they claim have happened to them when what they’re talking about isn’t remotely connected to the actual story.

A good example of the latter occurred the other day on a post about a school bus driver accused of embarrassing a student because of the student’s medical condition. A few commenters went off on a tangent about how “bullies in school” get away with bullying people all the time. But this story wasn’t about bullies in school. It wasn’t about bullies at all. It was about a bus driver accused of inappropriately handling a situation. But even the headline made that clear.

Fortunately, a few other commenters went on rants of their own…about those who were talking about things the story wasn’t about. At least there are people who do take the time. We always appreciate the extra effort.

You won’t get the story from reading the headline alone. That’s not what headlines were ever intended to do.

You won’t get the story from reading the short write-up on Facebook that precedes the link. Research shows the longer a post there is, the fewer people will actually click that “Read More” to open the rest of the post.

Consuming news does take effort. But that’s the whole point.

Do you ever commit ‘intentional ignorance’ by reacting to stories based on a headline alone?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.