Last night was a great night for the Twin Falls County Republican Picnic at the Fairgrounds. Donors provided plenty of food, beverages and raffle prizes. I always enjoy the raffles and find a little side entertainment asking old and new friends if they want to trade raffle tickets. I find it fun, whether we trade or not, because once the offer is made, people always are wondering if they made or turned down a good trade. When numbers are called those in the know are always checking to see if their or my ticket was the winner. I know that the odds are equal with a one-for-one trade, but some people will even turn down an offer of two for one. Must be a gimmick, why would he offer such a deal! Well, it is just for the fun to see how people respond to a trade of equal value.

What I have a more difficult time understanding is why people are so eager to accept deals that are too good to be true and repeat these stories without confirmation. Yes, how often do we see an email or Facebook post that confirms what we want to be true, because it confirms or reinforces a political position or expectation? I urge you to be rational with email and Facebook and do your research before you fall into the trap of sharing stories that are blatantly false, no matter how official it looks or who sent it to you. Social media rumor trackers like factcheck.org, truthorfiction.com or snopes.com can help; however, they can also have bias. It is more time consuming, but I suggest you Bing or Google search the topic and see what you find. The rumor trackers may lead you in the right direction.

Media bias is alive and well, as is social media bias. As Republicans, we share common values and political beliefs; that is why we work together toward common goals. However, that does not mean we should let our guard down in this information age and accept for fact anything that is shared in the social media. Social media is not like a simple raffle where we can calculate the odds. Social Media is rife with misinformation and exaggeration. Just because it confirms our positions, does not mean it is true. I hope, as one of your representatives, to filter the massive amounts of information to make decisions that factually confirm the conservative values we cherish, and not undermine our credibility by repeating stories that are not factually correct. When it comes to our core values, we should not raffle off our credibility with e-rumors and e-factious stories. It may not be an even bet.

Finally, best wishes to my seat mate, Representative Stephen Hartgen for a speedy and full recovery.

Originally published in the Twin Falls County Republican Women newsletter, August 2013.