Tag Archives: truth

Express Delivery

I have been speechless a lot lately, witness the lack of posts for a while. It seems like every time I see a prompt or read something and start to express my thoughts on the subject, I get hit with something else and never finish getting it together. It’s been a flabbergasting year.

The Times (Seattle, that is) newspaper this morning , yes, I still read the paper, has an article that disturbs me greatly, it isn’t the first of its ilk recently.

Facebook, Google helped anti-refugee campaign ads is the title. On my recent trip to China one of the movie things I watched going over was a British news magazine article about Facebook. For a while now I’ve been feeling the creeps about how much information Facebook has on me, especially given my low participation rate. Even though I never gave them my birth date somehow it’s there. All of this information is collected so that they can target advertising in ways unprecedented by anything that has ever existed. I doubt if my mom could do a better job of targeting me than Facebook, and I don’t do much on Facebook.

Google isn’t far, if at all, behind. I feel more warmly about them for some reason, which may have no basis in today’s reality. Amazon may know more than either, although I’m not sure they have realized that I ordered the knee brace for my grandmother and the cowboy boots for my son…I’m pretty sure Facebook could figure that out.

The concept of free speech is being challenged more today than ever in history. I’m sure someone out there will disagree, but here is why I think so: What is delivered, express to our inboxes and news feeds, is not even truth, it’s what the companies get paid for pumping into mail boxes. In a slimy way they carefully choose the mailboxes so that there is a “receptive”, meaning uncritical, audience. By the time less receptive people are aware of the misinformation, a bunch of people are so deeply entrenched in the weirdness that they won’t believe the truth.

This prevents people from hearing multiple viewpoints. It prevents freedom of thought, which is the ultimate purpose of freedom of speech.

The world is a messy place, the social media world is dumbing things down, only showing people what they want them to see in order to make ad revenue. They don’t just allow a warped worldview to go unchallenged, but actually benefit financially from lies in a very big way.

We need to be aware of “all the news that’s fit to print”, and maybe some that isn’t. These companies are making that hard to accomplish. One gets pigeon-holed by the data collection/evaluation and only gets to see one set of information.

Two questions to ponder:

  1. Great privilege, such as that granted by our society as a whole to social media, should have corresponding responsibility. The question is: How do you accomplish that?
  2. How does one get the straight scoop… or at least balanced crooked ones?

Words are all I have…

The world is filled right now with folks speaking out. It was almost a relief that today’s newspaper hasn’t come (or maybe it is in the bushes or under the porch). Yesterday’s had me in emotional distress all day.

This got me thinking a very unorthodox thought: Perhaps the most effective way to Speak Out in today’s world is for us to start reading newspapers again, and turn off the boob tube.

Show the media that they have to start reporting fact, not opinion, “alternate facts”, or just plain old fiction, by hitting them in their ratings. Everything is being turned into a made for TV drama. Wise up folks: The way to stop toddlers from having tantrums is not to give them attention for having them. Even in print reporting should be strictly about issues, with names not listed in the headlines, so people don’t get ego boosts from seeing their faces and names on TV 24-7.

If there wasn’t the instant ego gratification of “news” coverage, the incentive to do dumb stuff in rapid fire would go away. We need to cultivate a society that values thinking things through over having temper tantrums on stage. Everyone, on both sides, feels like they have to speak out quickly. This results in a barrage of opinions getting the headlines and facts showing up so late that no one hears them because we have moved on to the next sensation.

I live in a nation which has a constitutional right to free speech. This is a good thing. It is, of course, a two edged sword: people who don’t agree with your point of view get to speak freely as well. That doesn’t bother me so much.

My concern these days is that people are coming out with opinion, “alternative facts” (aka, what they wish was true) and even false news and presenting it as truth. They have the right to do this. Even legitimate news programs have taken to reporting opinion as if it were news. I don’t have a TV so don’t know when this started, but one night over at Dad’s the local news channel presented tweets and Facebook entries! Excuse me??? Apparently this is a regular feature.

One problem is that there are way too many “news” shows for the amount of actual news that American audiences are willing to watch.

There is a good deal more going on in the world than what we hear on the 5 o’clock news. If we were less parochial perhaps presidential candidates would know where Aleppo is..although maybe was is more accurate in this case. Heaven forfend that the media tell us about things elsewhere in the world, those long drawn out battles and hardships in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia are so tedious, not the way to boost ratings.  They are complicated and can’t be explained in 140 characters, so off with their heads. You can watch for 15 minutes and have a handle on everything they are going to bother to report in the next two hours, but most people numbly sit there for an hour or even two, and with every repeat they become hypnotized into thinking they know what is going on in the world. Of course actually knowing about and trying to understand those issues might make us stop and think about the consequences of our actions, that’s not much fun.

Okay, off the soap box. The sun is shining on the day before the groundhog pops up: what will tomorrow bring? Hopefully not another executive order…it’s getting tedious.