What is the proper way to react when your deeply held beliefs are challenged? It can be difficult to confront the reality that you may have believed something so firmly yet you were wrong about it. It becomes a sticky situation when we are inundated with hundreds of other people’s opinions on whatever the subject matter may be—a controversial statement or position of a politician, a social media user’s provocative tweet, or just the improper wording from someone who isn’t able to explain themselves properly. Who is wrong and who is right? It would be easy to jump on the bandwagon especially if the general opinion of the internet is not split, but what if you really truly disagree with the majority opinion? What would you do?
It feels good to be right, to be accepted, and to be a part of something bigger, but not at the cost of losing your self-identity because sometimes you can be right or you can be accepted, not both. Somehow, we can all live in entirely different realities depending upon what facts or news you choose to believe or disbelieve. We are seeing this much more often in the era of “fake news” when everything that doesn’t fit our current beliefs can easily be dismissed as such. And anything you want to believe can be confirmed somewhere on the internet, then when you find out that other people believe this to be true as well you feel like you’re onto something, when in reality it was fake news all along. It is truly a scary thought that our reality is dependent on the media being fair and accurate when we know that the media is often not fair and less than accurate.
I could write much more about what is and isn’t fake news but the main point to understand is that news coming from CNN or MSNBC or Fox News (or any news source) isn’t necessarily true or false simply because it comes from them. So, it is that which determines our individual reality. How can we be expected to coincide with each other when we have these different realities? To one person the Sandy Hook shooting was a false flag operation set up by the government as a scheme to take your guns away, to another that is an abhorrent and entirely disrespectful belief that has no basis in reality.
It is difficult to show humanity to those who believe something that is the polar opposite of what we believe. Because of this and the disconnect the internet provides between humans, it is easy to fall into what I call the ‘New Media Effect.’ On these new media platforms (eg. Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc.), many people interact with others in an entirely different manner than what had been the norm when speaking with someone face to face. This can be seen in an extremely wide variety of scenarios. When I refer to the ‘New Media Effect,’ I’m referring to the general lack of humanity exhibited over the internet. This lack of humanity when seen in a mob can be detrimental to someone; it can cause them to lose their job, family members may stop talking to them or they may even have detrimental thoughts about themselves depending on what the angry internet mob has said.
I cannot stress enough how imperative it is that we maintain a general standard of humanity for everyone regardless of what someone believes or if it seems less real over the internet. At the end of the day, we are all humans, all stumbling around a rock for no reason in particular, just trying to find some semblance of meaning in our lives.
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