Oh, the number of posts I see that claim something contrary to what people would say is popular, including the accusation, “…and you say the media doesn’t control you?” The basic claim behind many of these posts is, “I’m uncovering the truth to enlighten you and let you know how misled you have been.”
I don’t get it. Most of these posts are from individuals, who, when you look at their profiles, have no official connection to the individuals or organizations directly involved even though they claim enlightened and certain truth. They have no first-hand knowledge. There are no facts listed, just a general “did you know, why didn’t we know, who has been lying to us, now we know the truth” claim. Yet these posts get shared again and again. People don’t want to believe a particular media outlet, yet they’ll immediately share a social media post created by an individual that has zero creditability but simply claims what others want to believe? Again, I don’t get it.
The most recent trend that had me shaking my head was #governmentsnow, which claimed the snowstorm that descended on Texas (and many areas of the country) was not actual snow. It was a conspiracy to, among other things, cripple the economy. It featured people taking videos and pictures of their experiments of the snow. Because they didn’t understand snow well, they made claims this snow was not real. It didn’t behave the ways they expected, but guess what? It behaved like…snow. Most anyone who lives in snowy regions could immediately identify the claims that something was mysterious as false. Instead, the claims were simply misunderstandings about the properties of snow. And I should add, the majority of Texans did not fall for such naivety and were concerned with much more significant challenges as they dealt with the realities of the weather.
How does it make sense that we call just about every source of information fake news…while disseminating our own fake news? We will spend time making videos instead of spending the same amount of time doing a little research to find some facts. We claim fake news yet we won’t apply common sense and critical thinking to come to better conclusions. We are trampling wisdom while claiming to be smarter than anyone around us. And we look ridiculous.
We are more capable than this. We can read full articles and check sources. We can do research. We can apply common sense and critical thinking. We can consider multiple sides of a debate in order to glean the most complete understanding even when we disagree. We can be humble and respectful while seeking truth, because that’s the only way we find truth. And we can accept the fact that there are some truths we’ll not be able to fully grasp. We don’t have access to all the information. Or we aren’t capable of understanding everything about something. Or there are other things we need to focus on, because those distractions and our rationalizations about them might be more (poorly) purposeful than we want to admit. In finding value in some of our process and actions, we might be undermining where our focus should be.
I realize many people will read this and either claim it has nothing to do with them or claim they are right in their approach and this post is worthless. I don’t want to divide us into two categories. I don’t want to accuse anyone. I want us to get better at thinking. I want us to be humble as we discern. I want us to be wise as we process. I want us to be focused on the good, right, and truthful things and get less distracted by the borderline things that have just enough goodness and truth in them that we consider them worthy. I want us to be gentle with people as they process and accountable to people we trust. I want us to grow and not decline—and know the difference. I want us to explore a broader perspective with a freedom and joy that only comes when we are postured by core truths. I want us to give less baggage to the next generation, because they will have enough of their own. I want our hope to eclipse our cynicism.
I want us to be better. Will you join me?