How I long for the days when the National Enquirer was the only questionable media out there.
Current events and how they turn up on my social media timeline is an interesting lesson in human behavior. We–as a species–are so gullible that we willingly grab onto the first snippet of information that matches our narrative, regardless of the source. We take that little nugget and run with it like a Hobbit with The One Ring.
Disinformation is not a new phenomenon. But in a world of fake news and alternative facts, slick disinformation has found a home. The instant gratification of on-line news and social media channels means the truth is often harder to find. The truth has become a single kernel of corn in a Genetically Modified cornfield. After enough exposure to the GMO disinformation, the truth becomes watered down and irrelevant because it doesn’t match what “we” want it to be.
You’ve seen posts on your timeline saying that people will block or unfriend if don’t agree with them, or you post something that they don’t like. I get it, I really do. It’s not fun and arguably not safe, to get blasted by social media for your beliefs, color, or political affiliation. If you only listen to your own voice, or those of the same choir, there is a danger of becoming tone deaf–unable to hear other points of view. But social media, in spite of its prevalence and easy access, is probably not the best source for non-GMO news.
News outlets have evolved over the decades and each has their own particular bias. Brietbart to CNN, news isn’t simply reported anymore, it is spun, packaged and fed to listeners and readers. Rarely do you get the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or fair and balanced reporting. There is always an agenda, the money behind the news, and We the people don’t get to see behind that curtain.
Much of the social media feeds that pretend to be news are designed to outrage, inflame and drive action for a particular point of view. It doesn’t matter if all the facts aren’t offered, or if the news is blatantly false. It fits the narrative of that group. It feeds on itself and keeps multiplying with every like or retweet.
Is there a sweet spot in social media? I believe there is. The real sweet spot is us. We, each of us, determines what we see on our social media feeds–the positive and the negative. For me that means taking in the reports from sources across the spectrum and making up my own mind. It means questioning your own values and beliefs. And it means asking questions to find that non-GMO truth hidden out there. I had the opportunity to meet Walter Moseley at a recent writer’s conference and we talked about the representation (or lack of it really) by persons of color in the crime fiction community. It was a good conversation to have, as a writer and reader of the genre, it opened my eyes to the vast field of talented writers out there–writers who simply need (and deserve) in the door.
The idea is make that personal connection, not simply a like or a retweet. Ask these difficult questions and get the truth you need to draw your course. Seek out those with opinions other than your own and get informed. The truth is out there…
Andre Gide (French Novelist, born1869, died 1951), “Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.”
Ah, so true, so true. I specifically watch news media that I’m not inclined to agree with because we need to understand the other point of view. I know I’m not right all the time, even half the time, but quite possibly, neither are they. It is in trying to understand the other point of view that we can hopefully find some common ground and build upon that.
I’ve found the most balanced news to be on NPR. They have people from both sides of the aisle, and everyday folks with differing viewpoints, stating their opinions. Some are extreme, others are toward the middle. Since it’s not a lot of shouting, I can hear the other side without feeling hammered.