Let’s say there was a string of burglaries and break-ins in your neighborhood. Then one of your neighbors finds out and says to you, “Hey, there were some break-ins in this neighborhood. Please be careful. I understand that a few of them did not lock their doors, so just make sure you do that.” Would you have a problem with hearing that?
I would like to believe that a reasonable person would not have much of an issue with that. Along with this, if your house was not burglarized, would you call that neighbor a “liar”? Would you say that they were “just trying to scare you”? Would you begin telling your other neighbors that you did not trust him or her?
Chances are, you would not.
When it comes to the media, a good number of folks speak about not trusting them. Many also talk about the media being “fear-mongers.”
First, you have to understand which areas of media are meant to inform from an unbiased standpoint and which ones are not. There are several agencies that inform and that is it, as this information will come from news anchors. Others primarily consist of commentators, meaning they speak opinions (whether informed or not) and that is what you get from them. Others inform, but they will sometimes have commentators as guests and panelists, or they have programs in which they feature hosts who speak their opinions, while the normal programming is about informing. Many do not know the difference between a news anchor and a commentator or they believe they are interchangeable.
I will get to “second” in a little bit.
During this COVID-19 pandemic, many have expressed what I mentioned above about not trusting the media and fear-mongering. However, one thing I have noticed is that folks are quite selective about what they don’t “trust” and what they do.
You may think that that’s what we are supposed to do, right? We are supposed to make informed decisions based on the information provided to us. However, the problem I have noticed is that a lot of people play the “don’t trust the media” card when the media puts out information they do not want to hear or do not agree with. If the person agrees with what is being expressed, there are no issues with the information or even the media in general.
In regard to this “fear-mongering” talk, here is my “second.” I have two very direct, “yes” or “no” questions for you:
- At any time, has the media said that upon not wearing a mask or exercising proper social distancing, that you ABSOLUTELY WILL contract the virus?
- At any time, has the media said that upon you not staying at home, you ABSOLUTELY WILL contract the virus?
I can answer those for you. “No” to both questions.
At worst, the media has not done anything more than that neighbor. You are given information and you decide what to do with it.
Thanks to the current administration, now every other person has a pass to shout “FAKE NEWS!” every time something is said that they do not like. But I cannot tell you how many times I have noticed the same people uttering this phrase post something that is not true and/or has been repeatedly debunked.
All I know is that I have never heard someone say that they “do not trust the media” following something said that they believe. But that wouldn’t make sense, right?
Confirmation Bias is the act of seeking information that supports your beliefs. Upon finding that information, you stop right there and claim it is the 100% truth. This also leads a lot of people to see the information they do not believe in, only to break their backs researching to find something that goes against what they do not agree with.
But many try to be clever about it. I have a few Facebook friends who so-clear-it-is-embarrassingly support Donald Trump and his administration. But rather than to just come right out and say it, they find every way to support what he says and does, while pretending to be unbiased. But very seldom do you hear firm support for the other “side.”
The media’s job is to inform. We as the public do not get to pick and choose which facts we want to go with. The facts will remain facts. But this mindset of “not trusting” the media only opens the door for conspiracy theorists. Because they love to hear people talking about who or what they do not trust. They write something that goes against the media and folks will go along with it, since they echo that same media distrust. No hard evidence has to be present; after all, Confirmation Bias means it will not be necessary.
There is gross misinformation going around as a result of not trusting the media. This is dangerous also. All this bad information exists because of the lack of trust by some, but that does not make it trustworthy. Again, they are just feeding off the fact that many do not trust the media, while they are well aware that it has nothing to do with trust in general, but the fact that a lot is being said that people do not want to hear.
What it comes down to is being honest with yourself. We live in a world of everyone (of course) “keepin’ it 100” and “not sugarcoating” everything in the world, yet the media puts something out we don’t want to hear, and right away, people lose their minds. This is adding to the problem. We can always “keep it real” with everyone but ourselves. We do not sugarcoat with others, but we do it with ourselves all the time.
We are not always going to hear what we want to hear. But growth does not happen that way. Throwing a fit and declaring the media to be “untrustworthy” because YOU personally do not like what they are saying is not productive. I have never once heard someone say that they believe what the media is saying, but that they still should not be trusted.
We live in a world of everyone saying, “F*** your feelings.” Well, when it comes to the media, it might do each of us a little good to take our own advice.