When I was growing up I knew to be quiet when in the lounge while the news was on TV. At six in the evening and later for the news at ten I kept my mouth zippered so Dad could hear of the day’s events. My parents also received the Daily Mirror newspaper, satisfying my Dad’s political leanings.
Consequently, the BBC, ITN and Daily Mirror were my family’s windows to the world and shaped their view of it. Fifteen minutes at six pm, thirty minutes at ten and however long it took to read the Mirror which, as anyone who has ever read that rag can tell you, was never very long at all.
My formative years were the sixties and seventies and amidst the trials and tribulations of global politics at that time, not once did my parents – or anyone else in my family – become agitated by the issues of the day.
Current affairs at that time included the so-called ‘Cold War’ with its threat of nuclear annihilation, industrial disputes that featured the miners’ strike, power outages and the three-day week. We had the Vietnam War and, of course, the Northern Ireland ‘troubles’.
Despite these and more, life just went on. As it should of course.
My, how things have changed.
Now we’re bombarded twenty-four seven through TV screens, newspaper headlines, computers, tablets and more. We even have access at our fingertips through Smartphones. For many, these are never far from their ever-twitchy fingertips.
We’re now receiving up-to-the-minute updates on events occurring thousands of miles away within moments of them happening. We’re so used to this pace of delivery that, for today’s news corporations, speed has taken precedence over accuracy.
First with the news is more important than being correct with it.
It’s also a sad fact that bad news sells better than good. Media executives may ask ‘who wants to hear uplifting or heart-warming stories nowadays?’ The answer to that is ‘we do.’ But sadly these accounts are rare, and are never given top-billing. No, that’s reserved for the ‘BAD STUFF’.
Furthermore, bad stuff assailing us constantly from all sides can be overwhelming and unhealthy. I’ll rephrase that. It is overwhelming and unhealthy.
Moreover, in an age in which a view expressed in Cardiff, Wales can be transmitted to Cardiff, New South Wales in little more than a heartbeat, lies are also as contagious as a virus. Viruses and lies. Now there’s a topical consideration.
Worse still, lies can be dangerous. It’s therefore vital that we pause and reflect on the impact so much distressing news may be having on us. Is the news helping us? Or is it having detrimental effect on our life quality?
In a world of Fake News how do we discern fact from fiction. Truth from lies. And how important is it that we’re able to do so?
What is the impact on us when our perceptions become skewed, whether that distortion be by accident or design? With this in mind, imagine a world in which 98% of the media is controlled by a handful of huge corporations. Six to eight small groups of extremely powerful people gathered in boardrooms controlling everything you see – and equally important, what you don’t see.
Their unwritten mantra is undoubtedly along the lines of ‘control the information and you control the people’. This scenario shouldn’t stretch the imagination. Like it or not, it’s today’s reality. Extend that deception to academia. Our own education.
If that seems a step too far, how many reading this believe in the ‘Big Bang’ and Darwin’s theory of Evolution? Yet, both are taught as fact through all grades of education and propagated through every natural history programme, publication and in every museum. Everywhere.
So if you’ve been lied to about something as fundamental as the origin of time, space and matter; the origin – or genesis – of life, is it so hard to imagine they’d lie to you about anything and everything?
That said, now imagine a generation that has been systematically misled from cradle to grave.
It would be reasonable to suggest that under these conditions, instruction and advice parents have passed on to their offspring with all good intentions has therefore been flawed to some degree. Compromised.
The result would be a second generation whose start in life has been influenced by misinformation and who then enter an academic environment structured on those same falsehoods while, at the same time, becoming increasingly influenced by a corrupted, unprincipled and increasingly pervasive media.
A whole generation then who live entire lives without ever knowing essential truths that should form the bedrock on which their characters are built.
What would be the consequence of such a deception? To help answer this, first of all consider animals in the wild.
Their survival depends on knowledge of their environment. They need to know where to find food, what foods sustain them and what doesn’t. They must know where to find safety in times of danger and routes they need to take quickly to get there. They need to know where to shelter for rest.
Without that ‘situational awareness’ the deck becomes stacked against them. Similarly, we need an ever-acute situational awareness. The information we receive shapes our perceptions, opinions, world view, decisions, life choices and actions.
Therefore, an environment dominated by misinformation and deliberate deception renders it impossible for us to make effective life choices. Like wild animals lost in an unfamiliar landscape, our odds of success in life become … diminished.
Back to the news. Polish-American diplomat and political scientist, Zbigniew Brzezinski, stated:
Shortly the public will be unable to reason or think for themselves. They’ll only be able to parrot the information they’ve been given on the previous night’s news.
We see this happening today. It’s therefore vital that our sources are trusted and are proven to be reliable.
Are your sources widespread or narrow?
We often have our go-to news outlets, but to gain a balanced view it’s helpful to expand our sources. This allows us to weigh information and arrive at a well-considered viewpoint. Exercising freedom of thought often helps us to rationalise details, and to arrive at a more educated perspective.
The mere process of researching truth for ourselves imparts a degree of control. We become our own journalists – citizen journalists. Furthermore, once we demonstrate freedom to employ critical thinking we may even find that real truth is often contrary to what we’re being told through the mainstream echo-chamber.
Now, more than at any time in history, it is vital that we exercise discernment and apply common sense. It is essential that we question everything. For if the events of the past eighteen months have taught us anything at all, it is that our overall health – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual … and perhaps even our survival depends on it.