by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that I am guilty of it too. This is social commentary, and my opinion, but I am by no means above reproach.
How many of you are guilty of trusting what you read as a truth, or worse yet, a fact? Headlines are written to catch your attention, and in an ADD society like we live in today, influence occurs in titles and the first three lines of a tweet or Instagram post. We think (trust) that someone we know personally, or worse, someone we follow on Social Media that seems to have like opinions, knows what they are talking about and has researched a topic, and formed an educated opinion. Even if this were true, it is still their opinion, which means that all of their own biases and thoughts are wrapped into that conclusion they just posted.
At some point, we need to start holding everyone, including ourselves, accountable for what they say. I am not talking about the current “cancel culture” trend that is going on, but rather some actual research and evidence to either prove one side of a discussion, or to blow the lid off of something that is completely false. Do you really think that someone who is an actor or a musician has a more valid or lucid opinion than you do? The world is at your fingertips; stop using your phone to post pics of your lunch and surf dating sites, and access some of the other things that are available. When a politician makes a statement in a debate, a company called Politico does research on that statement and either proves it to be true, or shows it to be mostly false with a little truth baked in, or just a flat out falsehood.
DAILY LIFE NEEDS THIS.
If you have been paying attention to the news and the concern over entities like Facebook skewing their promotion of information that we all see, you hopefully can see the danger in that. It’s bad enough that the main algorithm Facebook uses for keeping people engaged and surfing through their site is based on “outrage porn”. Yes, literally the plan to keep you on Facebook when you could be, let’s say…living your life, is to have your newsfeed contain things that piss you off. This is the magic algorithm, pumping out as much information and “news” that you are angered by it and comment and wait for others to do the same to choose a side. This apparently has become the new human condition, tribalism on every single event. Regardless of the truth, the real facts, or anything else, “this is what my side believes, and there can be no other way” is the keyboard warrior battle cry.
I personally have not opened up my Facebook account in a long time, It is a private account anyway, and I have trimmed my list of friends down to people I actually know, and not friends of friends or any other loose association. I don’t labor under the illusion that the world cares what I think, what I am going right now, or what I am about to eat for lunch. I don’t stalk my friends online, I call and speak with them, check in to see how they are doing, and hear their voice when they say it. Besides, I sure as Hell don’t care what Kim Kardashian or Taylor Swift is doing right now, and even less what they think about the upcoming election. I want to inform and educate myself, create my own opinions and thoughts about a topic, and possibly choose a side. There are VERY FEW topics I ever know enough about to truly think I am correctly informed and that my opinion is locked in and not going to change. I try to stay open and able to consider any new information to add into consideration. I am always willing to change my opinion and admit that I was wrong or under-informed about something vs. defending a stance based on an initial swipe of exposure to someone else’s opinion about it.
We all have to take responsibility for this. Every one of us is personally responsible for the thoughts and actions we have, and we need to dig deeper that scratching 240 characters deep into a topic and forming an opinion about something. We need to hold the media accountable too. The reason so many people distrust the media is simple, they are spoon feeding us the agenda that matches their narratives. The owners of most of the media we in America have exposure to is a mere handful of people. Those people have political interest and influence to protect and defend, and this means the lens with which they view the world is biased. We all have biases, I get it. But I don’t have any thing to gain or profit from by promoting a certain agenda, political candidate, or world view. I want something to be done about climate change too, but I am not so sure that Al Gore had all of his facts straight in his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth“. I watched it, thought about it, and agreed with a lot of it. But there are a few things that seemed off kilter to me, and after digging into them, found a bunch of evidence to the contrary.
In some ways, I think I have a much harder time taking a stance on anything these days. there is so much information in general to sift through, I am caution to draw a line in the sand on anything other than basic human decency. The rest is up for debate, and as the facts pour in, my opinion wavers and changes. I just don’t know enough to be fighting for a side of a topic when everything I am basing my opinion on is the opinion of others. Maybe the rest of the world could pause for just a second and consider that maybe they need to do a little more digging before they make a public declaration on their Social Media platforms.
I am trying hard to always see the other side of something before I decide on my initial opinion. That opinion is subject to change; if I learn new information, it may change my mind on the topic, and my opinion can change. It is not flip-flopping, it is being open and honest with myself. I don’t know all of the answers, but I am open to learning, growing, and changing when circumstances and information warrant that. I hope the world will slowly start to bend back in that direction, as we are not headed down a very promising path at the moment.

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