Another dot in the blogosphere?

Reject, refuse, rebuke

Posted on: May 5, 2021

The green movement has three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on

However, in the context of plastic use, it is not enough to just reduce, reuse, or recycle. Reducing still means that unnecessary plastics need to be produced, not enough is reused, and only some types plastics are accepted for recycling. 

This is why the movement needs a fourth R, Refuse. Refuse to take or use new plastic objects when you do not need them. Some schools might have started educating students [example], but I fear they are few and far between.

There might also be three Rs for dealing with misinformation and disinformation: Reject, refuse, rebuke. I reflected on one example of the careless mindset that creates misinformation. It was about how some Singaporeans propagated a year-old message without checking for currency and context.

To stop such information, I suggest we first learn how to identify and reject it. In the example, a simple click on the link to the article would have revealed its publication date and its purpose. It would then be easy to reject it as untimely.

But rejecting the message is not enough. We must also refuse to transmit or amplify it. Resending the message does not just bring attention to a headline, it also propagates unnecessary worry or fear. We must refuse the base and irresponsible desire to reshare without checking.

The last R, rebuke, is something most would be unwilling to do. It seems harsh and unpleasant. But like a doctor’s diagnosis of an illness, it is a necessary step. You need to know what was wrong, why it was wrong, and how to correct it.

My rebuke: Resharing an old message is wrong because gets amplified, creates fear, and encourages more uncritical sharing. If the intent is to encourage others to stay the course and stick together, share that message instead.

Photo by Monstera on

Rising above, I reflect on clickbait and a fourth R.

The headline was designed as clickbait. The newspaper publisher wanted readers to be curious and worried enough to click through and read the article to get more information. Ironically, the same headline was amplified a year later without being checked for context.

If there is a fourth R to my three Rs, it might be to Reeducate. Like a rotten tooth, lazy thinking festers. It needs a painful removal. People need to unlearn hold habits (sharing indiscriminately or making claims without evidence) and learn new ones (checking source and citing valid and reliable resources). SkillsFuture, anyone?

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