We'll be in the midst of what promises to be a contentious presidential campaign this time next year.
As in the last two election cycles, fueling the flame will undoubtedly be a war of words on social media. The time is now to arm ourselves with the facts and to cull sources we know to be trusted and reliable.
That doesn't mean you have to agree with or even like what's being reported. But the truth is vital.
Don't accept every posting on face value. Be wary of click-bait. Better yet, don't repost without researching. Read linked articles before sharing them. Be sure the headline accurately depicts the story, even if it casts your favored candidate in a good light or paints the opposition in an ugly manner.
We all know mediums that cater to particular leanings. We may abhor a certain cable network or news website, but at least they are honest about those to whom they cater. It's the unknown ones that cause concern.
Watch for postings from what appear to be new and legitimate-looking “news sites.” Take a few moments to run the name through your favorite search engine, and look over other postings that may be discovered.
Ask questions. When your favorite aunt or best friend insist that suppositions stated in their posts are factual, ask where they heard or read it and, if possible, link you to the source in question.
Remember that those who seek to influence on both sides know how to stir emotions. They're counting on that passion to deliver an unquestioned message from the computers, tablets and cellphones of good, hard-working Americans.
Most of all, be responsible and informed. Using social media is quick, easy and, other than the data you purchased from your provider to run them, free. Anyone can make an account and call themselves “news.” In the last four years, a lot of anyones have.
The truth is out there, but it's not going to knock on our doors or ping our phones. We have to find it.
Our country depends on it.