Word of the Year 2018 – Misinformation

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
Proverbs 16:24 NKJV

Words are important aren’t they. Words are part of how we express ourselves and of how we’re understood.

So what happens when we can’t trust words?

Word of the Year

dictionary.com is one of the largest and most used dictionary services on the internet. Each winter they announce their Word Of The Year.

The Word of the Year is based on the words and phrases most looked for and used throughout the year. It is intended that the chosen word encapsulates the theme or mood of the year.

Their word of 2018 was “misinformation”.

The rampant spread of misinformation is really providing new challenges for navigating life in 2018… misinformation has been around for a long time, but over the last decade or so the rise of social media has really, really changed how information is shared.

You may have read examples of how fake news has spread via social media. 2018 has been no exception:

Reports of fake air strikes in Syria
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/fake-videos-social-media-strikes-syria-180414123754163.html

Facebook attempts to combat fake news…
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/oct/18/facebook-war-room-social-media-fake-news-politics

More fake war videos, this time using video game footage…
https://www.poynter.org/fact-checking/2018/fake-war-videos-are-using-footage-from-gamers-on-youtube/

The rise of ‘fake news’ and arguments between public figures and mainstream media contributed to the Dictionary.com choice. In studying lookups on the site that trended this year, Dictionary.com noticed “our relationship with truth is something that came up again and again…

God’s Truth

In the past the Bible has predicted a time when mankind would ignore God and choose its own truth:

Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases! May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, And the tongue that speaks proud things, Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail; Our lips are our own; Who is lord over us?
Psalm 12

As Christadelphians we believe that the words of the Bible are God’s and that they are true. Every word He has said. Every word He has caused to be written.

They are words of truth that people can live by. Words of guidance. The Psalmist, King David, said this about God:

Your teachings are sweeter than honey.
They give me understanding and make me hate all lies.
Your word is a lamp that gives light wherever I walk.
Psalm 119: 103-105 CEV

Psalm 12 says,

The words of the LORD are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times.

And so TRUTH is essential. And so we need to be able to tell the difference:

Hear my words, you wise men; Give ear to me, you who have knowledge. For the ear tests words as the palate tastes food.
Job 34:2-3 NKJV

We need to be able to separate bad ideas from good, in the same way that we identify and reject bad food. There will be consequences from taking in bad food and the same is true of words. Jesus said:

…for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
Matthew 12:34-37 NKJV

Misinformation vs. Disinformation

For their word of the year dictionary.com purposefully chose ‘mis’information over ‘dis’information.

Disinformation is “deliberately misleading or biased information”, whereas misinformation is, “false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead”. And so we need to be doubly sure that what we share of truth, is in fact truth.

In selecting their word of the year dictionary.com are intentionally not pointing the finger at the media, organisations or nations – instead they are challenging all of us to be more responsible in our consumption and distribution of information.

And so my suggestion is that we choose our word of the year now. That instead of looking back and choosing a word to represent what was, let’s choose a word to represent what will be.

The Search for Hope Word of the Year 2019 – the word for every year – is God’s Word…

Your word is very pure; Therefore Your servant loves it.
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth.
Psalms 119:140-142 NKJV

Opinions are formed around words – they are the foundation for belief. Words have the power to make a difference in our lives – both positively and negatively… and so it is our responsibility to choose them carefully.

And it’s not enough just to hear.

God’s Word is alive and must be alive in our lives, in our behaviours, in our thoughts and actions, if it is to fulfil its true purpose. Jesus fulfilled God’s word perfectly and, as a consequence, has given us the opportunity of life. So if we want the full benefit of God’s Word then it’s essential that it’s alive in all that we “do”.

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. … But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
James 1:21-25 NKJV

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