Those of us who keep a toe in politics have noticed unquestionably the polarization occurring between conservatives and the rest of the world.. It is as if one side is living in a world structured by different facts than the world the rest of us live in…
They are, (or we are, depending on which terra firma one stands on…. )
In a national poll by this conservative leaning think tank, we see that 81% of us agree we cannot agree on basic facts with our political opponents. That is 4 out of every 5 of us….
What are facts? Definition, please.
The earth revolves around the sun and the moon revolves around the earth, are two examples of facts. You may have contrary opinions, but your having them will not change either the trajectory of the earth or moon.,,,
Those are facts.
Here is an example of two opinions masquerading as facts:
A) Terrorists are coming into our country with the massive influx of Syrian refugees.
B) America has the most stringent vetting of any refugee on the planet and only plans to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees across all of 2016.
One is the fact propagated by right wing fear mongers, the other is the official policy of the US government.
This causes great arguments in social media with threats and charges being tossed around by both sides, based strictly from feeding off different facts, and the result is that each is unwilling to listen to the other because their facts prove the other is just “spouting crazy…”
Now with myself a rational human, if A) were true, that is if we had accepted millions immigrants and were just rounding them up, putting bodies on boats and giving them papers in New York and saying, “here you go”… most of us would say this was ridiculous policy and very dangerous… I would put myself among them.
But as a rational human, if we are only letting in less than 10,000 a year, and we are vetting them extremely well, and some of these, like our ancestors will do great things for their new nation, then this would be the sane policy to take, and you know what? With all this in place, we could probably take more…
So you see: when on social media or in argumentative comment sections, to banter back and forth with:
A) You’re @#$@# crazy….
B) No, you’re #$%#$ crazy
makes one totally miss the point that neither is crazy at all, but are in fact very similar; Both agree on the actions to be taken in both scenarios, but are just arguing because both were fed different facts, that’s all... Again most of us would be in agreement if we were all fed the same facts and only those facts…
Why has this gotten worse since the Internet, something which was supposed to put all the world’s knowledge at our fingertips?
Well, this might be a good place to remind you that the Internet is a two way street… You use the Internet to learn about the world; the world uses the Internet to learn about you.
Everything you do on the Internet leaves a record… Everything! If no one cares what you do that is probably “ok” and inconsequential to you right now… Does anyone really care if you look at porn? No, then go ahead… No one will look for that needle in a haystack…
BUT, if at some future point someone does want to find out about you, everything you did since you first logged on is at their fingertips. It could be a hiring agent, a boss, a competitive co-worker trying to get you fired, your spouse, your mistress, your gigolo, your estranged gay lover, your bank, your insurer, your best friend, your worst enemy, a political opponent, or even someone making a mistake and accidentally thinking you are someone else … right now it’s for sale to anyone coughing up $78 dollars.
So what if someone found out what you like to see and fed you stuff that would keep you engaged, instead of the opposite, making you so totally enraged at the lies you were fed, you disconnected and walked out the door to live your REAL life? Would they use it?
Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal and is now the owner.
They have two Facebook feeds, one blue and one red… Someone put them side by side.
These are both coming from the same media outlet which we thought was a body that deliberated on issues and then fed us what they thought. That was a lie. They feed us what they think we want… Which means, both sides are seeing different things.. Period…
Each side probably for the most part thinks they see the one true Wall Street Journal on their FB feed.. If you are someone over 40, you have always had the WSM dictate things to you across your life, especially if you invest. So when they show you something culled from Breitbart, you take it they have certified its validity. Little knowing the person you are “politely” arguing with is also getting notifications from the same WSM, just on a different feed, and all facts they get are opposite of yours…
So on one side we only get all facts that Hillary is guilty of killing 4 people in Benghazi. On the other side we get facts that as many times as she gets hauled to answer questions, there is no “gotchu” and it it pretty obvious that she had absolutely nothing to do with that event.
And flipped? …On one side we get all the references of previous attempted rapes perpetuated by this Republican candidate; on the other side we only get to view the inconsistencies showing that these are gold diggers who are just piling on for some extra cash.. After all, our most “trusted” source in both cases… is who told us so…
Both from the same trusted source… So which is it, is Benghazi really a crime unpunished, or is it a political football just waiting for the quarter to end? So which is it, are these really true stories of attempted assault, or are they gross misinterpretations of fooling around?
The overall answer is we need some way to hold media to truth… If you are media, you have to tell the truth. You certainly can’t talk out of both sides of your month to different sides telling each a version of truth that pits one against the other… Especially when they would probably all agree, if they were all given the same facts.
There are two ways to control it: internally or externally.
Cutting to the chase, I tend to lean internally for several reasons. One, it is far easier to manage, both at the news gathering level, and at the monitoring level.. One of the principle arguments for first allowing faux news was that as entertainment it shouldn’t be regulated. Another was that Big Brother could more easily control all information if narrowed down to a tiny few. Both of those have been proven true. It is harder to control all media since faux news and Clear Channel has emerged as huge players.
The Internet provides balance but quite often, those “trees of knowledge” fall in the forest making no sound. The Internet is so big.
Having a bureaucracy follow up on every broadcast to determine truth, is simply un-American and therefore unacceptable…
Therefore having individuals and corporations police themselves seems to be the best solution. And the best way to do that is to facilitate the filing of lawsuits anytime an untruth is uttered.. What this does, is prevent speculation from going across the airwaves. And sometimes such lawsuits can be misused, as in the Scopes-Monkey trial of a century ago. But that trial became the news for a month, illuminated pride and prejudice in a new light, and opened the doors of enlightenment as the suppressors of information got overruled…
For example: one screen shot showing a Republican Congress-person being arrested for illegal sex while having a “D” next to his name on a blue banner, could cost Faux News a pretty penny. As a result, they would tend to internally outlaw propaganda and police those themselves.
Today, saying Global Warming is not man-made, would open one to a lawsuit. Saying Hillary Clinton killed 4 people in Benghazi, would open one to a lawsuit. For those already committed to truth, it would have very little effect. If one was sure of ones source, they could go ahead and release the story… if one wasn’t sure of their source, they could sit on it waiting for collaboration from someone else……
Those of you with a few years under your belt may smile at that last line. That is how journalism used to be accomplished by family publishers before corporations bought out all our media outlets, and before computers….
Essentially eliminating all non-fact based propaganda is past overdue… Our population deserves the facts to make their informed decisions on how we should run this country.. Anyone withholding those from a segment of our people is deserving of punishment for doing so….
And finally, as we today see threats from Trump again leveled against those medias putting forth stories of his penchant for playing with little young pussies, we could limit the threat of lawsuits for intimidation by forcing the filer to pay all expense of the filing, and defender’s legal fees unless the publishing party in the end is found guilty of publishing falsehoods… Then they would pay all costs including attorney fees of the plaintiff.
If you lie it costs you. If you always tell the truth. you remain untouchable…
Then, maybe we all will become less polarized and less contentious…..