Thursday, January 30, 2014

Who can we Believe?

My mother and I just had an argument about the politically slanted forwards she sometimes sends. Bless her heart, she is 91 years old but some of these forwards are highly offensive to me.

She thinks I don’t want to hear the “other” side’s opinions but I tell her it isn’t quite that. These email forwards are hateful, spiteful and full of exaggerations and lies, or so I think. I believe my own news sources, but I have to admit they are biased too. Who can we believe?

In this highly technological society, we are exposed to 24 hour news on TV and other forms of media that flood us with information, some useful, some silly and some just plain nuts - but, according to whom? How do we sort through all this stuff that assaults us so that we can educate ourselves about our world? We want excellent, truthful data in order to make choices not just about who we vote for, but about what to eat, how to live, and what products won’t kill us. Who can we believe?

The polished media often sound wise and build great cases, full of doctored data, some taken out of context, but some even word for word out of the mouths of politicians who never meant to be recorded at that particular moment. Who wants to serve their community by running for office when they subject themselves to microscopic investigations, researching every move since the womb? Who wants to put family members into such a fishbowl with cameras and smart phones constantly recording?

When 70% of our media outlets are owned by corporations who control every tidbit and morsel that we hear and see, how can we muddle through all the sensational stuff to find some truth? We try to find news sources that are like minded to hear our own thoughts reflected without really investigating the other side. Mother, you are right. I don’t usually want to hear what the “other” thinks.

Even Rush Limbaugh acknowledged somewhat hysterically on the radio that he lies, that FOX News lies, and that people soak up their words like sponges, believing them

I want answers, I want to solve this dilemma of a nation full of people hungry for facts and figures and also desperate to know exactly who is really listening to our phone conversations and reading our emails. Do we believe Edward Snowden, or do we believe government officials who lie to us over and over again, even when they get caught in their lies? Who can we believe?

Given these issues, what can we do except argue with our family members, talk about those other stupid people, and/or lapse into great despair at the state of our current information stream? Surely there is a better way. If not, maybe we should just turn on a good reality show, and vegetate. 

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