I’ve heard some describe our time period as the “Post-Truth” age, essentially meaning that truth has become irrelevant. There is no finer example of this than the amorphous creature known as, “Media bias,” that seems to have gotten a stranglehold over our society like a constrictor. Media bias exists to spread lies. It whispers falsehoods into the ears of the opposition, making them believe things that make no sense in the context of our own reality. Media bias wants nothing more than to manipulate the supple, malleable and promising minds of those who will eventually be on the other end of the political spectrum. It’s also, like many problems in our society, just a combination of massive failures of multiple systems in our world. However, the fight against media bias doesn’t start with censorship and regulations; it starts with personal responsibility.
How do we know that something in the world has happened? Word spreads through a phenomenon we know in our age as, “media.” If a nun trips on a bagel in Northern Oklahoma, someone tells someone else, and that someone else tells someone at the news and that someone at the news uses print or some other form of communication to spread this poor nun’s fate like wildfire. Before this story was told, nobody knew this nun existed nor the bagel. In the minds of anyone outside of this nun’s life, she may as well have not existed. So this story is published and the nun’s face is put up everywhere.
The news serves an important role in society. It should be objective and based entirely on fact. However, it very clearly isn’t. Living in a commercialist society, information must be sold like any other product.
Media companies feeds on attention. It is a business, after all. Like most businesses, they have a customer base to cater to. This customer base is also known as a demographic. News has to be dressed up to appeal to the largest amount of people possible. It has to catch the viewer’s attention by creating outrage but also by confirming what they already believe.
Some news stations say, “the bagel could have been placed by some evil baker in a plot to harm nuns and bagels should be banned.” Bagel-haters and nuns tune in and are loving this story. Some news stations say “the bagel was most likely defending itself against an aggressive nun.” Bakers as well as nun-haters tune in and love this version of the story. Nuns march in the street demanding justice while bakers march demanding legal protection of their bagels. Both sides are only acting to fight an evil presented that they wouldn’t have heard of otherwise and really doesn’t exist. The true, “fake news” from “media bias” is the creation of false outrage to incite potential viewers. Bias from political leaning is no more than having a demographic to sell a narrative to.
Now, let’s get existential for a bit. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, did it actually fall? The world we perceive is the world we know. Reality is essentially based on what knowledge we have. To a child on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus is real. What is real to an individual is based entirely on what they perceive. In the big picture, truth is relative. If nobody was around to hear the tree, it may as well have not even fallen. All the issues created by media bias, such as false outrage and misinformation, could be avoided by re-prioritizing the value of the news in our lives.
When media plays into their customer base and gives them the narrative they want over objective truth, a bias is created. This is how people on both the left and right can have such contrasting views of the world. I think it isn’t necessarily the media’s fault. They only give their customers what they want. Regular salt-of-the-earth types of people never truly need to worry about global politics because it is unlikely to directly affect them. News is a messenger from the larger world- a foreign world that only exists as a story. What truly matters to regular people is their own lives, because to them that exists physically.
So, I want to present the idea that perhaps it’s time we care just a little bit less about the stories on the news. It might sound dangerously apathetic, but it might help us rekindle our humanity. Should we get rid of news entirely? No. I’m not even proposing any legislative change. To force any sort of “truthfulness” on media would be a nebulous and easily corrupted task. As I said before, truth is relative when dealing with the big picture. When the powers that determine what is the truth have agendas, as people in power tend to have, we’ve entered the murky waters of legal censorship.
What I’m proposing is that we prioritize our lives. Instead of splitting off into rabid fanatic groups following the dressed up stories on TV, what if we redirected that energy towards fixing the immediate world around us? Maybe if we shut out the news of the larger world, to an extent, we can focus on the immediate world? Not to say we stop caring, but we care about what is tangible a bit more. We stop flaming on twitter at Russian bots, and get involved in local politics, help out at the soup kitchen, pick up litter, hold hands and sing kumbaya. But these are just the beliefs of an idealistic college kid. Take them with a grain of salt.