The Age of Selective Hyper Reporting
Recently I took a break from social media. Taking a break has become more and more common amongst my peers. The reasons ranging from being inundated with sensational “click bait”, endless quizzes, half-truths, negative users or most disturbing of all videos of black men being murdered online.
I took a break from social media because I was burned out. Not burned out on sharing information, or having intelligent discussions, but burned out on sifting through the mass of disinformation, especially in regards to politics.
I feel I should clarify, I’m not giving up the “good fight” as one might say. The internet, and social media contain a wealth of good information, and handy pages. I have learned everything from Kumihimo to how to fix my dryer on Youtube, but I have also learned just how often minorities are murdered because a police officer felt threatened. While I want to know about these stories, they’re draining. I felt I needed to take a breath.
The internet in general has brought us to an age of a truly inordinate number of sources, from reputable news agencies, to sites that are as loose with the truth as possible who report every detail of what we consume. Perhaps one of the most problematic of those is cousin Bob’s post sharing a conspiracy theory about vaccines or terrorist-funded politicians he read on his alt-right newsgroup.
The spread of miss-information isn’t just overwhelming, it’s stress-inducing and emotionally taxing when these sources come from friends or loved ones. It can feel like drowning to log onto social media and be blasted with a feed full of questionable information. This excess of information may be in part to blame for so many of us trusting stories with little or no truth, simply because we like the company of the person sharing it. Even those who recognize many of the stories we are presented with are exaggerated or untrue, face an uphill battle of checking the multitude of information for validity.
When we turn to televised news, we’re faced with even more hurdles. Every tweet our president makes is discussed ad nauseam on cable news, watering down the important, hard-hitting stories. News outlets frequently push stories that are wholly unimportant to the forefront of their programming to drown out stories that aren’t in line with the station’s (or their sponsor’s) political viewpoint.
This age of selective “hyper reporting” isn’t just causing us to lose touch with the meaning of the word facts, but for some, losing touch with reality. Watching friends, relatives and colleagues post about red herring conspiracy stories, with over-generalizations, pseudo science or worse is daunting, but frustratingly common.
While it is important to share accurate information, and those important, but less covered news stories often your voice feels dwarfed by the latest sensational tweet. While it should be our responsibility to educate ourselves on our leaders and vote for who we believe to be the best person for the job, it’s all a lot of work.
It’s downright exhausting.
I often hear people say, “I don’t know anything about politics, so I don’t vote.” The first time I heard that statement, I was flabbergasted! How could you not? As we go down the recently more visible rabbit hole of disinformation, I began to fully understand that sentiment.
It’s easier. It’s less stressful. It creates less arguments with friends, relatives and colleagues. PTA meetings or Thanksgiving dinners are friendlier. It’s comforting to be ignorant of the things we find unbearable, but it’s impossible to change them, when they are ignored.