Who do we look for to tell us the truth these days? In ancient times there were Philosophers, Prophets, Oracles and such types who were those who spoke truths to society. Nowadays we still have such offices, but the general population looks elsewhere to find their facts or revelations to guide them through daily life. The Mainstream News and Journalism were for a long time during the 20th century considered the bastion for authenticity, research, and clarity when it came to analyzing the world and all the people in it. They helped keep accountable the government, corporations, celebrities, and other figures of power or influence. Though, as many today have lost their faith that the government is looking out for everyone, that corporations have their customers best interests in mind, and that the news always tells the truth, confidence in institutions or figureheads has not only faded but become deeply confusing.
Adam Curtis, a famous BBC documentarian, released a new project entitled Hypernormalisation. It is a bold and articulate commentary on recent western political situations and the construction of the current world climate. He questions the very core of how we ascertain our recognition towards the portrayal of reality through media and its effect on individuals, communities, and potential grass-roots attempts to keep those in power accountable for their words and actions.
The idea of ‘Fake News’ has become a mainstream term that is being floated around everywhere. Originally it acquired some of its traction in Social Media, specifically Facebook, because of the kinds of news stories that were being displayed and shared that had weak factual basis. Today we have so much access to so much information it is often hard to confirm anything in a fundamentally objective sense, in the same way we are immediately comfortable agreeing with others that 2 + 2 = 4. Everyone has their own personal news sources and there is often a baseline doubt towards other people’s sources of knowledge unless they are shared.
History is one of the greatest tools we can all use to determine accuracy in regards to truth in society. Of course everyone’s own analysis of history may be subjective, but it is easy to derive some tenable facts from any study of the history of anything. If we search our media about someone and look at their whole life, their choices, what’s happened to them, we begin to get an unmistakable collection of facts. This is true when studying governments, corporations, universities, or any type of institution or ideology.
What Adam Curtis’ documentary really conveys is that trusting in all these traditional sources of information is no longer a method towards constructing a real and honest experience and expression of what is going on around us. The onus for truth seeking and speaking is thrust onto everyone’s own shoulders. It is our responsibility to question and research for ourselves whether what is being offered by the news, by the governments, by Social Media, by any powerful or influential person or institution is true.
There is a tendency to accept any reporting which serves our confirmation bias, but this is a deterrent to the self-reflective personal process for meaning. It would be nice to believe that everything we already think is true and will always be true, and it is nice to hear such a message offered to us by any of the powerful or influential media sources. But are we really being true to ourselves if we only seek out that which confirms our own beliefs? If we don’t engage with the people and perspectives which disagree with us, have an alternate explanation, or another way of life, can we actually say we possess any certainty about the world?
Author: Jonathan M. Bessette
- via creative commons
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