Seriously, You Believed That?
In the last couple of years, since moving to West Virginia and being out of the law enforcement field, I watch the news less and less. Why you ask? I touched on this early this week in “The Rest of the Story” but I let me dare to go deeper.
You can watch 3 different news outlets (local or national it doesn’t matter) and you get 3 different spins on a story. Many times journalist “cut the fat” to streamline or sensationalize a story. With time constraints this is expected, kind of like turning “Order of the Phoenix” into a movie…you miss the details and nuances that create the full story. This is also like that childhood game where the teacher whispers in my ear and we pass it all around the circle to you. When the message is whispered in your ear you boldly, loudly proclaim the message that is almost always far from the original message. (The older I get the more I realize everything we need to know we really did learn in kindergarten.)
The court system has long acknowledged the bias created by news media for decades. When jurors are sequestered they are not permitted news papers and are told not to watch news reports. If the news media was a reliable source of information, why would this be necessary? Believe it or not, I am not attempting to vilify the news media. I do feel a level of irresponsibility has risen in the last decades. Ratings are more valued than an accurate story. However, what can we expect as a public if we feed that frenzy by indulging in half-truths ourselves.
Back to my probation officer days. There is a reason officers do not speak of ongoing investigations. They are working to find the truth. They have to collect evidence to support charges that will be made against accused parties. The purpose of a thorough investigation and collecting FACTS versus opinions is to protect the innocent and properly accuse and prosecute the guilty. Everyday we see a barrage of accusations against entire social groups, professions, administrations and so on without enough evidence to write a warning ticket, let alone prosecute. It seems irrational to me for us to take hold of the news we see on TV, in print, or on social media and trust it with unwavering abandon. Have we the people become that gullible?
I am the child that always asked “why”. It drove my parents a little crazy and is responsible for about 75% of their silver hair. I find myself in a constant state of asking “why” when I scroll through Facebook or Instagram. Why are we believing the junk being propagated in the media? I have come to a few conclusions. 1. We have a desire to be right. So when CNN, FOX News, or other social media news streams support our views we latch on like it is an etched-in-stone-fact. 2. We hunger for knowledge and understanding. When it is wrapped in a “credible” package we want to accept it. If we have information we believe we can make sense of things. 3. We are feeding the attention seekers and becoming attention seekers ourselves. This ties into that “on-looker” phenomenon – when you see something and can’t stop looking. 4. We are naïve. We have been raised to watch the news to get information. To GOOGLE the answers to our questions. We have been cultivated to trust what the media feeds us.
The Truth – Not Your Truth
My husband and I worked in corrections for a long time. We were very skeptical people. If you said “Hi” we were probably looking for your cohort who was trying to rob us. (That sounds paranoid, but when you wear a badge you learn to be cautious of everyone.) Not dealing with criminals on a constant basis has allowed us to be more normal and trust our instincts. However, that need for truth remains. I don’t believe my neighbors fish story till he shows me the fish, why would I believe the media until they show evidence.
Perhaps this is just how my mind works, but the truth is the truth. I am not talking about how our perspectives color our experiences. I mean cold, hard, unyielding facts. For example, the truth is AIDS has been a prolific health crisis that has taken many lives. It’s devastating and tragic. However, there are people out there who speak a claimed, personal truth that AIDS is a judgement upon sinners or that it is a the result of alien contact. (Dude there are some seriously weird “personal truths” out there.) Without evidence – all of these ideas, concepts, and personal beliefs are not THE TRUTH.
Truth in Current Circumstances
Houston’s devastation will be in the media for weeks if not months to come. The truth is the city was hit hard by a natural disaster. We will continue to hear people speak about Joel Osteen and his action or lack thereof. I have two thoughts on the Houston subject: we do not have a complete set of facts to make any kind of educated assessment and I question “what are you doing to help?” to everyone busy pointing fingers at Osteen and others under fire for their apparent actions. (Papa said if you point you finger there are 3 pointing back at you…just saying.)
The other current issue is the destruction or removal of civil war monuments. Most of us do not have a complete set of fact on this issue either. If a monument is truly for the propagation of white supremacy of course it should be removed. Any monument erected for the purpose of imprisoning or mistreating a group of people is unacceptable. It still has a place in a museum lest we forget the ignorance of the past. Not every civil war monument is about white supremacy. Many are honoring military leadership and are a nod a bygone era. Some of these statues and monuments are purposed to remind us not to repeat the mistakes of the past. I am far more worried about the inscription and what it supports than the monument itself. This subject is not clear and since when is vandalism the appropriate way of addressing the issue.
I am not asking you to agree with my perspectives. I beg you to seek out truth…and not from Wikipedia or Facebook. Educate yourself against the bias of media and against the ignorance of others. When you take a stand, have a firm foundation. Do not believe something just because you like the way it sounds. Do not believe something because your favorite news anchor made the statement. Have faith in God to reveal truth to you. Look at the facts of the situation. Do not let ignorance be your guide whether it is someone else’s or your own.
That’s the rest of my story!