I had this weird dream the other night, after the latest round of shootings, where I agreed with President Obama on at least one issue. The idea that the 24-hour news cycle (many times fueled by a false narrative) is stoking much of what we see going on in America today.
Additionally, the comments section after most Internet reporting is disturbing and inflammatory, leading people to say things they would think twice about in a different venue. People with mental issues or other problems are led to believe that certain actions are justified based on what they read in chat rooms and other online venues. Their mistaken opinions are buoyed up by other like-minded individuals and we see the results.
The media releases a story — usually a horrific shooting like the ones in Dallas or Baton Rouge, with a “breaking news” bulletin, captures our attention and for the next 24 hours we are glued to the TV as they bring in talking heads and interview each other as the tragedy unfolds. Cameras from private citizens, security outlets and even those worn by police officers, capture each detail of an event and are poured over in an effort to understand motive and method. Then private citizens take to the chat rooms to read personal opinions as people from all walks of life opine on cause, effect and solutions.
A vicious cycle ensues and sometimes it’s driven by a false narrative in which no one appears to be correct. A narrative is a story (dictionary.com) or in some instances the retelling of an event (Harmon.com) and when it’s not the truth, it becomes a false narrative. The problem is that there is just not much difference between that and a lie and many people have a problem telling the difference between a lie and the truth, preferring many times to believe what they want to believe instead of what is factual.
Recent events, many of them false narratives, have given disgruntled Americans an opportunity to act out their frustrations and, as we’ve seen, cause great harm and tragedy in many peoples’ lives. It takes effort to seek the truth in anything and it’s usually much easier to just believe what we want. We used to call it “lazy thinking” but that went away with political correctness. Now it’s considered non-critical thinking, which sounds better. But I digress.
The three 24-hour news outlets, (Fox, CNN, and MSNBC) all have agendas and push their version whenever an event occurs. An educated person, when watching any one of those networks or reading internet reports, can analyze and discern false narratives based on facts reported if those facts are accurate. Since we don’t see much, “just the facts” reporting, to quote Sgt. Friday, it has become more difficult to come to intelligent conclusions about events. The result is that we’re all constantly looking for the truth and “reliable sources” when we watch the news.
This is a difficult task, especially when it’s coming at you 24 hours a day with hidden agendas. A possible solution would be to watch each of the news outlets equally, going back and forth to get the total picture on any event. This, of course, would be time consuming but at the least it would give one an accurate picture of what’s happening and help with the bias factor. As you go through the day it’s not difficult to tell which network people watch based on their opinions, if they rely on just one source.
Fear is a powerful motivator and in this case the fear of being wrong can lead to “bullheadedness” and yes, lazy thinking. The idea that I may not be right but it’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it is not a good way to approach thinking. We shouldn’t be fooled into thinking we have all the answers, but neither should we be fooled into thinking anyone else does either.
I will admit I tend to watch the network with the best-looking reporters and that would be … the one with the best-looking reporters. I’ve learned that even attractive people can be intelligent once in a while.