As a mom of a toddler, college student, new wife, and a woman with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis I have spent my fair share of time on internet sites searching for insight into various questions. I have always been of the mind to take what I find on the internet with a grain of salt, but recently I’ve found it can be difficult to hold steady under the barrage of personal testimonies about well, everything. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading other people’s testimonies about things they have done that have helped make their lives better. Success stories are addicting and fun to read.

I especially like researching and reading testimonials about exercise, fitness motivation, healthy eating plans, organizational tips; you name it I probably have entered it into the search box of Pinterest or Google. I know I am not alone in this even if I am the only one who isn’t too embarrassed to admit it. I don’t think there is anything wrong specifically with looking for insight online, as long as it’s done the right way.

There is so much information available out there in the vast space of the world wide web that it can be extremely taxing to try to sift through everything to find the gems. There are gems amid all the opinion pieces and poorly written articles touting poorly researched information as fact. But how does one tell? How do we stand steady under the pressure that comes with the fact that everyone’s opinion is available and there is no one to censor out bad information?

Personally I’ve found that there are a few ways to ensure that you don’t get taken in by wrong information.

  • Go to God.
    • This may seem pretty obvious I know, but how often have you typed a question into that search box only to realize that you haven’t prayed about it yet? I hate to admit that it happens to me too often for comfort. What I’ve learned however, is that God is even more accessible than Google. And while it may seem easier to type than to pray at times, sometimes the easy answer isn’t the best one. God doesn’t simply present opinions as facts in order to advance His own selfish agenda; there’s nothing selfish about a God who does everything for the good of others so that they may prosper. So pray about whatever it is and look in the Bible, there will always be valuable and relevant answers.
  • Talk it over
    • I rarely act on anything I find online, no matter how convincing it may be, without talking to my husband, or best friend, or another knowledgeable person that I trust. Even if they don’t have expertise in the specifics of my questions, I trust them to help me sift through my emotions and ask critical questions in order to help me make sense of whatever I’ve found. I also think it’s extremely important to note that in terms of health questions you should Always, Always, Always ask your doctor’s opinion. No matter what we may think we know, we did not spend 8 years in college and four years in residency working countless hours to help people and researching thousands of topics to build a knowledge base, so we cannot presume to think we know more than our doctors.
  • Get a second opinion
    • It’s pretty easy for a person to write up a post about why they don’t brush their teeth, drink caffeine, eat gluten, eat dairy, wear underwear, run, sleep less than 8 hours, take vitamins, use essential oils, breastfeed, formula feed, co-sleep, baby-wear, use a stroller, sleep more than 5 hours…you name it, it’s out there. And a lot of these arguments about various things are pretty convincing. So how do we know what to choose to listen to? How do we know who is right and who is wrong? Well, for starters, we should always get a second opinion. There are definitely some great websites, medical journals, publications, and books available to help one verify if there is truth to what a person is saying or if what they are saying is simply anecdotal.
  • Trust yourself
    • This last one may be hard to do but it’s just as essential as the other three ways of sifting through information. If you read something and it seems slightly off, or if it is something you don’t think will work for you and your family, then don’t do it. There is nothing wrong with choosing not to do something that doesn’t add value to your life, routine, family, health situation etc. As long as you have prayed about it and you can be sure you are not making the decision based on stubbornness or pride, if your instinct about something is not to do it, then don’t. Simple as that.

I know these are not ground breaking strategies. I know that they seem super simple and obvious. I know some of you may disagree with the way I ordered them and their level of importance, but I also know they work. The point is not to persuade people to be unnecessarily suspicious, critical, or pessimistic. The point is to encourage critical thinking and wise decision making. To show just how valuable it is to seek wisdom and guidance from God and others. And to help other people like me, people who like asking questions but want to make sure they are getting the best answers available, to make decisions they can feel good about. That being said, I hope this helps you on your journey!