We have so much information literally at our fingertips. Search mechanisms can yield answers to so many questions. It is a virtual information highway. Yet, two major problems exist that provide roadblocks or exits to the information highway.
First, answers are often not that simple and depend on the questions being asked. Many problems are complex and need context, as the answer afforded by the results of searches you might click on, can steer you in the wrong direction. Any time you look for a medical solution, you must be careful not to over-diagnose symptoms. If you have ever had children, the croup is one scary looking illness. Yet, it is not as bad as it looks, and a few simple solutions can remedy the problem.
Second, all answers and sources do not have the same level of veracity. Unfortunately, there are information sources whose modus operandi is to mislead. There are groups of entrepreneurs who will craft official looking websites whose main intent is to obfuscate the truth or get a candidate elected. Then, there are portrayed media sources who, on their best day, offer a spin doctored version of the news or mask editorial opinion as news. On their worst day, they can misinform as well as anyone.
Unfortunately, the duty falls on the reader, watcher or searcher, to ascertain the veracity of the information and its source. The groups who make a living at bending the truth, do it very well, so it is hard to know you are being duped or not told the whole story. Now, we have candidates and a President-elect who tell you to doubt the media, saying they are biased. This is often done to mask that the media actually may be on to something.
The main stream media has a key bias and that is toward conflict. Conflict sells. I find they often give too much credibility to an argument and portray it as 50/50 with side-by-side arguments. Climate change deniers have been given too great a voice these days, as the scientists who know the issues have agreed it is a problem and is man-influenced. Yet, you can find websites that will tell you it is a hoax and have even influenced our President-elect.
The main stream media also has a bias toward entertainment and can be conflicted with funding sources for commercials or their owners. As a result, issues may not be discussed at all or covered in a shallow form. While our President-elect claims the media was against him, from my vantage point, they enabled his success by covering his events and controversial statements and not his business history and plans.
So, we must be diligent and dutiful to confirm sources. We must read and listen with curiosity, but remain skeptical of sources. We must ask questions – why, what, when, how and how much or long? If you do a search, look at the source. If you read routed information on Facebook, again look at the source of the underlying document. An overly biased person may also be a lightning rod that the information being routed lacks veracity. And, watch reputable news sources and not politically biased ones.
Democracy demands an informed electorate. We just elected a President who lied about 3/4 of the time on the campaign trail and says he will represent people he has taken advantage of throughout his business career. It boggles the mind that this man was not vetted more. And, as a President, we will need to hold him accountable. We must recognize the roadblocks and exits to seeking the truth. It won’t be easy.