Knowledge and Information are power. They give us the tools we can use to dismantle literally any situation that arises to get in our way of accomplishing a goal. Whether you want to fix a broken pipe underneath your sink, obtain a skill that can make you comfortable living, or discover a new form of self-healing therapy that can change your physical and/or mental health, you can accomplish anything you want with a little motivation, information, and application of what you learn. That’s what information is for and it can be used to enhance our lives mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Its no secret that before the mid 2000’s, most Americans received the vast majority of their information via television and radio, with a fairly specific audience relying on print for much of that time as well. While many do recall a time when the news was meant to inform and educate people, its apparent those days are long gone, and have been for quite some time if you really think about it. The interests of the media no longer serves the people, it serves the stockholders and advertisers that have a stake in it as a business. Not that there’s anything wrong with how capitalism plays a part, but as the gap between the classes widens as it has in the past 20 years, its evident there is an agenda being promoted on every channel, network and publication.
If fast-food, auto, and insurance companies are all the advertising you get on a particular tv station, you’re rarely if ever going to see comprehensive coverage of news stories or content in television drama that discusses the corruption and negative effects from the impacts of the actions of companies within these industries. Its extremely important when watching TV or subscribing to online outlets that you look at everything from as objective of a point of view as possible. Of course from what I continually observe regularly, that’s easier said that done for many people.
Its an emotional time for most people, not only in this country but also in many countries around the world as well. The United States isn’t the only country on earth experiencing protests and civil unrest from its citizens. Its apparent that power structures all over the world are experiencing a massive shift and the citizens are reacting, as they should. People should have their voices be heard; even if its not exactly what you want to hear. If someone has malicious intent or animosity towards you or a specific group that you identify with, wouldn’t you like to know? I know I would. Therefore everything happening right now is needed for us to really see things for how they are instead of how we want them to be, like its obviously been for far too long now. Of course one has to wonder, why do these people feel so much hatred and animosity for another group or even individual? Have their lives really been that badly affected by those they harbor ill will towards? Do they really have any reason to believe their livelihoods are at risk and another person or group poses an actual threat to them? Why are they coming to these conclusions? Of course all you do have to find the answer to these questions is take a keen observation to the information they’re taking in and sharing. That’s where we learn the dangers of media manipulation.
As long as social media has been around, its given people the opportunity to express their opinions, tastes, and offered them a means to share their experiences with the outside world. This seemed innocent for the most part, maybe somewhat obnoxious depending on the individual’s habits, but nevertheless didn’t seem to do much harm overall. This was until the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012, the trial of George Zimmerman the following year and the outcome which led to an outcry from those who felt justice wasn’t served. Although I’m sure there were several instances, where people used social media as a means to publicize injustices and apparent flaws in the system, the specifics surrounding this particular case were so sensitive, it struck a nerve with many people of various backgrounds & perspectives of what was considered right & wrong, given the particular situation. Fast forward to mid 2014 and we have the police shooting of Mike Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, along with the Ferguson protests that followed; which unraveled an underlying division in how we as a society view our judicial system. Since then, there have been far too many cases and stories of people who are starting to feel if not had already felt like they’re living in an unfavorable world where their best interests are being overshadowed by interests of a specific populous that doesn’t share their same similarities, ethnically or socioeconomically. Its for this reason, many people have taken to social media to organize and mobilize in order to have their message heard by the masses.
Of course over the span of a couple more years, a highly controversial candidate for President of the United States, campaign and victory, we’re now in a fragile state where lines are being drawn and sides are being taken. With a non-stop barrage of disinformation and mistrust circulating between citizens, media, and government officials, its as if the entire country is walking on egg shells with every story published and every opinion shared online. Its apparent while everyone has a feeling or opinion they feel the need to share, that we still are avoiding where the real problem is; which is the information that is being shared and the perception people are having of such information.
As our attention spans have shortened, people are rapidly losing the ability, if they ever had it to begin with, to look further into a story or news report in order to verify its validity. As a result of the public’s shortened attention span, the media is also failing to provide accurate information if not flat-out creating false narratives themselves in order to expand their reach to as wide of an audience as possible. Not only that, we’ve used social media to further distort the truth by circulating memes as factual without any verification of genuine & authentic sources which continues to confuse if not mislead the unsuspecting masses, particularly the youth. Every other day a new meme is being accepted as truth with no source or responsibility taken by the anonymous party that created it in the first place. Its turned into pandemonium on the internet and nobody seems to be addressing the core of the problem.
Furthermore, fresh media personalities & publications have been coming of the woodworks to prey upon the public’s fears, prejudices & outright ignorance with their biased stance on every controversial issue getting coverage, through verbal tirades & brigading. With the rise of the ‘alt-right’ & the increasing popularity of public figures like Tomi Lahren & Milo Yiannopoulo as well as others, people are now blindly following the leads of talking heads whose intent seems to be to use divisive rhetoric & propaganda to promote an allegiance to questionable agendas. Its bad enough when an uninformed mass populous does little to expand the range of the sources for which they receive their daily dose of current events. Its even worse when the information is presented with persuasive commentary from a highly biased point of view thus provoking the audience, not allowing them to form a well rounded opinion on their own. Not only that, but we now have anyone who disagrees with a story screaming “fake news” or “alternative facts” based simply on their own personal feelings. We’ve turned opinions into facts and disregarded the importance of having opposing views taken into consideration to grasp a more balanced perspective on any issue brought to our attention.
The evidence of how this manipulation is affecting the general public is present all over social media. With every video published and shared are thousands of comments that are dripping with disdain, resentment, fear, animosity, aggression & even utter hatred. I’m not sure what’s worse, the fact people have no restraint in spreading their toxic energy online, or knowing there’s so many people out there who feel this way, yet only feel inclined to say such things on social media, while hiding their true feelings & possibly putting up a polite front in person. Of course its understandable that people are emotional. Its a fragile time, as I stated earlier. However, I beg to ask the question, why are they so emotional? Is it because their lives are directly being affect negatively due to the circumstances around them? Or are they being influenced in a way that is causing this aggression and anger? One has to look deeper into the cause for such upheaval and whether or not its warranted.
In a rapidly changing society, there is nothing more powerful than information. As connected as we’ve all become worldwide, its important to understand who one another really is and why one another has the feelings they do. I do believe there is much to learn from keeping the lines of communication open and interacting with one another regularly to discuss the important issues that have a direct or even indirect effect on our every day lives. Whether we agree or disagree, there’s no reason we can’t engage in discussion in a civil manner. However, in order to do so we have to see things clearly and not let our heads get filled with shortsighted, divisive rhetoric. We have to see the issues for what they really are and not what some arrogant journalist or television show host says they are. Just because these people are on TV doesn’t mean they know everything; so don’t treat them like they do. They do not deserve your praise; your viewership is what pays their salary so as much power as we the people give them, we can just as easily take it away. Don’t fall victim to manipulation and let it come between you and those you love or those you have yet to even know. It will do nothing but cause the downfall of us all as human beings and as a society.