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January 2021

The Internet encourages democracy.

The Internet is a place where you can share your uncensored opinion with little to no consequences. It is easy to see how this may give you the idea of it encouraging democracy. But it is not as simple, as the World Wide Web is a very large place with many different places and cultures within it.

We can look at the social media as the main source of news and opinions. A very popular one is Twitter. Attention brought to tweets is mostly in the form of likes and retweets. The only way to express negative feedback, which is an important part of democracy, can be through comments. The fact that this takes significantly more effort and thought, it can discourage actual discussion. Users would rather find people with opinions that are similar to their own.

Reddit is one of the social media sites that has a “downvote” besides the regular “upvote” button. This makes expressing your disagreement with the idea much easier. However, I do not think it encourages a lot of democracy. Because one opinion will always prevail with a vast majority, people who disagree are discouraged to express their thoughts and are either pushed away from the community or the whole site.

The Internet may seem as a place for democracy but because of its sheer size and freedom it is easier to ignore the difference of ideas and just focus on your own agenda without questioning it. Even if certain sites have the foundation which supports democracy, there will always be echo-chambers that are unwelcoming to new thoughts.

                                                                                                        Jaka Sgerm, 3.ag

Fighting Alternative Facts with Critical Thinking

Do facts matter in this post-truth era in which people respond more to feelings and beliefs? A lot is at stake when we are trapped in echo chambers of information shared by people who hold values similar to ours. The diversity of opinions and news we see is lost when social media algorithms decide what we want to see, read and pay attention to. News feeds promote content posted by our friends and do not challenge us or broaden our worldview. As stated by Julian Baggini in A Short History of Truth, »By retreating into bubbles of the like-minded, people can strip out a lot of inconvenient complexities a wider perspective would give, leading to a simpler but therefore also distorted network of belief.«

FACT – our Erasmus + project – matters. If we are aware of prejudice, bias and current beliefs affecting our consideration of issues, and are willing to learn history, we will be more resilient to manipulation and propaganda.

Luka, Mojca, Oliver, Ema and Ivana visited Poland a year ago, now they are preparing for online learning, teaching and training activities.

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They talk about their experience:

I decided to take part in the project to learn about propaganda and fake news from the country most impacted by it.

I believe it is important to work with our peers from other countries to learn about their history and see how similar/different we are and practice language skills.  

What I will for ever remember from my visit to Poland is the day we went to Auschwitz – Birkenau. Hearing stories about it is completely different than being there and seeing everything in person. You get a glimpse into lives of people who suffered there. Changed my perspective on everyday things completely.

What we are working on at the moment matters because history should never be forgotten. As soon as people start forgetting the past, the same mistakes might happen. By educating people on such horrific events and why they happened we also hopefully prevent them from happening again. We also have to be cautious of the fact we can`t believe everything we hear on the news and we need to educate ourselves.

This photograph is special because we (Julia and I) had no clue what the meaning behind the statue in the middle of the river was but we just sat there and appreciated the view.

Ema Finžgar

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I decided to take part in the project to seenewplaces,meetnew people and learn more. I think it is a part of a high school experience to go on an international exchange. I always wondered what it would be like to live somewhere else, I guess exchanges are a way to try it for a short time. When you are in an unfamiliar place you need to learn how to deal with unexpected situations and believe in your ability to face and solve problems, putting yourself in those situations further increases your abilities and knowledge.

I believe it is important to work with our peers from other countries mainly to see how life can be different for someone the same age as you, but living somewhere else, to get to know each other and exchange ideas and knowledge.

What I will forever remember from my visit to Poland is thevisit to the old concentration camp ​Auschwitz, which was established to commit horrific acts against members of the Jewish religion and Polish civilians. The horror that was happening there will forever stay in my memories. I think everyone should experience going and feeling the atmosphere there, seeing clothes and baggage from the people that died there can really have an impact on someone, but mostly the visitation of the camp is important so the crimes that were committed there are never committed again.

What we are working on at the moment matters because it’s important to complete international projects in order to gain some extra knowledge even in hard times like during this pandemic, we cannot stop and forget about international learning it might be even more important now, then it was before in order to grasp the perspectives of others and maybe change ours, we can’t ever stop learning.

The photograph above is special because itremindsmeofthe great times me and my friends spent together in this exchange, what we learned and how far we have come since then. I think it’s extremely important to save photos like that, to some this may just look like an ordinary picture, but to me it’s so much more, it brings back happy memories and new experience I will never forget, and someday in the future, I may look at this picture and remember all the youthful memories and everything important I learned.

Oliver Jayasinghe

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I decided to take part in the project because I’vealwayslikedtravelling, andI’ve thought this would be a great opportunity to meet some new people and make new memories.

I believe it is important to work with our peers from other countries sothatwecanlearn from each other and see how growing up in different countries determines us and influences our thinking.

What I will for ever remember from my visit to Poland is thedaywewentto Auschwitz – Birkenau, and we saw the horrible conditions they lived in. Learning that helped me grow as a person and appreciate even the simplest things in life. 

What we are working on at the moment matters becausepeopleneedtobecome aware that not everything we hear in the news and media is real. That the spreading of fake news nowadays is similar to spreading propaganda in 1939-1945.

This photograph is special because itisvisiblehowwedidn’tknoweachotheryetbut looking back and seeing how much fun we had together and friendships that we’ve built makes it priceless. We know that this exchange connected us in such a way it’s unforgettable and I’m forever grateful.


Luka Šahmanović Petelinšek

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