I remember when I didn’t have opinions about everything. There were many, many events that happened in the world, and I was either blissfully unaware or simply an observer without much of a reaction at all.

For example, China launched its first manned space mission on October 15, 2003. I was 21 years old. I read the headline, and I moved on about my day. I didn’t espouse any feelings about China’s government or pretend that I had a clue about currency manipulation. Equally as important, I don’t recall any of my friends or family having particular thoughts on the matter either.

How life has changed 13 years later. Massive amounts of information is literally at our fingertips. In many respects, we’ve sacrificed quality of content for speed and volume. We also have constant contact through social media where we declare our innermost thoughts about the latest story.

Being an informed citizen is part of our civic duty as Americans; but now we’re fighting against being overloaded and misinformed at the same time. That wouldn’t be such a big deal if not for the pressure to form snap judgments about the latest headline and blast it into the social media space.

The flood of information gives us an undeniable ability to know more about a wide variety of topics, but it also creates serious pressure for us to engage a million different conversations.

If all the cool kids on Facebook are talking about president-elect Trump’s nominee for the Small Business Administration (SBA), you don’t want to be left out. So what do you think about her? (Hint: She’s really into professional wrestling.)

If you don’t know, don’t feel bad. Since 1953, we’ve had 24 presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed administrators at the SBA, and most of us probably can’t name any of them. That’s not a personal failure; it simply means we have other priorities.

The SBA administrator is indeed an important national position, but it’s the kind of discussion most of us don’t have the bandwidth in our lives to engage in a meaningful way.

Too many of us aren’t willing to admit that. We’d rather unleash an ill-informed opinion into cyberspace than concede that we don’t know much about a topic or care to take the time to brush up on it.

That’s where the fake news comes in. It’s quick and dirty “evidence” affirming our thoughts on an issue we know very little to nothing about. We might not even read the whole article if the headline is potent enough. We’re emboldened by misinformation that support our off-the-cuff reactions instead of learning something or remaining silent.

That’s a problem.

It’s social media laziness. We like the way something sounds, but we’re too busy to see if it’s true. Then we pass it along and hope for the best.

Part of being informed means admitting what we don’t know. There’s nothing wrong with that. It gives us an opportunity to learn something new. If we’re not interested in studying a topic, we should take a pass on sharing our feelings. Don’t forward the email because you want it to be true or post an article of suspect accuracy just to be part of a conversation.

Even if we do our homework and gain a new nugget of real information about a given topic, we’re under no obligation to share all our feelings about it with the rest of the world. Sometimes withholding our opinions makes them far more valuable when we actually have something worth saying or someone who really wants to listen.

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