12 Most Sexy Critical Thinking Skills for Social Media
The biggest enemy we face today in social media is cognitive bias. Our minds are our worst enemy when it comes to interpreting the written word in the form of blogs and status updates. The most careful reader may find themselves making errors.
Critical thinking is sexy and only takes up a few minutes of your time. Employ these 12 skills in your daily routine to fight back against your own hidden biases.
1. Finding the author name
We do not attribute authors in a consistent way online. This means credit often gets buried. You must give more than cursory glance to find the true mind behind that written piece. Remember: the person who shared it may not be the person who wrote it.
2. Checking outbound links
Check the outbound links by hovering over them. A title or a url should pop up. Make sure that the author is referencing some trusted resources. If they link to some questionable websites then you do not even need to waste your time to read the thing.
3. Looking at chatter from people who share
There are some people glibly sharing anything they come across and we must use tools to cut through the noise. For Twitter this is easy — just type a url into the search box. You can organize the results by who has shared in your personal network. Google+ ripples are another way to see the same information.
4. Reading headlines as summaries
Headlines act as a one sentence summary for a piece. It should represent your argument in plain language. Consider the fact that most do not add commentary when they share a post. The title becomes our only clue to what lies beyond that link.
5. Highlighting keywords in the first paragraph
Keywords are not just for SEO folks. Check the first paragraph for them. They provide a context for what you are reading.
6. Counting the number of comments
Are they giving constructive feedback or arguing with the author? I sometimes read comments before reading an actual post. This gives me a sense of anticipation that I hope the author is able to fulfill.
7. Running the url in search
You can use the link operator in a Google web search to find all indexed websites that point to particular url. There are many ways to use search operators to make decisions about the content you read.
8. Scanning for length
Don’t forget to take a peek and scan the post from top to bottom. We often miss the pagination at the end. Other key features include images, empty space, advertisements, and section headlines. These should give you clues and help you determine if you want to read further.
9. Looking for a disclosure statement
No one likes feeling duped into sharing an advertisement. It is pretty easy to miss a disclosure statement which is required by the FTC. Don’t fall into that trap because you will end up endorsing a product you have no interest in.
10. Reading the policy before agreeing
I love free downloads and go a little crazy sometimes. Nothing is ever given away for “free” and most likely the deal involved giving up your email address. Look at the terms before you sign over permission. Never give away information like your social security or bank account numbers.
11. Thinking before you click
We get used to seeing naked urls and if they come from a trusted source then we won’t think twice. Of course, people get hacked. You can check those urls with Sucuri, Web of Trust, and short url expanders.
12. Being open
The sexiest skill is openness. Critical thinking puts arguments into a larger context that allows us to build upon dialogues and gives a piece legs to stand on. Every good argument is rooted in what has come before.
I know you are reading this and thinking about how time-consuming this all sounds. I refute this, because this needs to become a habit. You learned many of these skills in school as they referred to print publications. You still have these tools, but they need to be applied to a new medium where communication has shrunk to 140 characters.
Will you join me in bringing the sexy back to critical thinking? What have people done that really turns on your neurons?
Featured image courtesy of TaniaSaiz licensed via Creative Commons.