Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On The Quest For Truth: The Internet

This is the internet in visual representation.
Fundamentally, the internet opened the gateway to truth-seekers and news gatherers by allowing us to seek out information from sources directly—allowing us to construct our own opinions from facts. Undoubtedly, this is why younger generations flock to the internet for their news; it has a reputation for ‘truth.’ The thing is, though, you need to look for that truth.

To highlight the problem, consider this blog posting. I am here, discussing, without a shadow of a doubt, my opinion of the growing concern over people who treat opinion as news, and truth as something which must exist because it is simply published online somewhere. However, without this disclaimer, and with a slightly different approach to my first paragraph, I could easily pass on what I am saying for news-truth. From there, if I can gather web traffic, I will find myself on the top page of a Google search, and next thing you know I’m being cited in some political argument, all without any of the credentials which would legitimize me as a news source. But of course, in writing this, I answer to no editors, and there are no fact-checkers looming over me, making sure what I have to say is fair and accurate, (and balanced).

This brings us to the great problem of our time—those who seek out ideologically congruent opinions of ‘news,’ and consume only those sources.  Seeking out alternative viewpoints is necessary in the construction and development of ideas, and is how we, as human beings, achieve. If, in a proper debate, one fails to listen to the opposition, he or she gains nothing, but simply loses out on an opportunity to learn and grow. Even if at the end of it all, you still disagree with what the other side had to say, you learned more about their side, making it easier for you to argue against it. The more you listen, the better your own arguments sound, and eventually, you might even think for yourself—because, let’s be honest here, there is nothing worse than a person who spews the same ideology word for word, that was on some crazy website or radio talk show, without having any idea what it really means or comes down to. And we all know at least one of those people; the person who adores Obama like the sun without knowing what he’s done, or the Republican who thinks Obama is the devil without knowing any political decision he’s made.

If increased ignorance was the biggest problem we had from all of this, I wouldn’t be concerned. The real problem is delineation from open dialog in the political realm. We already see it in Congress, as both sides refuse to work together—not because there isn’t common ground, but because one side needs to be correct. As we move forward, and my generation begins to enter politics, or in the least, begins co have an influence on politicians, this fissure will only continue to grow. What kind of world will we live in if we truly believe we can simply ignore anybody who ever told us ‘no.’

David Cook
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2012

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