Recently with the huge distraction coming out of Miami dealing with the alleged locker room bullying, it became very evident to me how people are easily led. One of the reasons that evil men are easily put into power is due to the public’s laziness in researching facts, awaiting the full story, and thinking objectively. Why do we find it so hard to wait for the full story whenever something happens?
This culture of reaction is one that keeps websites like TMZ paid, and allows for any media space to write opinion pieces knowing that it will be taken as fact by the majority of readers. We all blame the big bad “media” on our societal issues but are we doing enough to change that influence? Short answer is no, and when a one-sided story comes out and the public rushes out to grab their pitchforks it really shows how awesome propaganda can be.
The other week I was at a bar and an older couple was near my table talking about Tampa’s then Quarterback Josh Freeman. The game was on and the man’s battle-axe of a wife would not shut up as she jabbered on and on about any and everything. When the subject of the game came up, the man began to explain to his wife about Freeman’s issues with the team, one being drugs and she took it as her cue to begin a vicious character assassination of the player, including a blast about how “they can barely speak the English language”… (not sure if she meant jocks or people like me) all before her husband corrected her in telling her that the drug rumors were about medical drugs not street ones. Reading about this woman probably disgusts you but she is just like anyone else that hears a piece of a story about anything. No patience to hear the full story from both sides, no benefit of the doubt, just immediate opinion and reaction.
Why don’t you take the time to think for yourself? It isn’t difficult and I can share with you a number of techniques that I employ in order to stay outside of the noise.
1. Never assume that writers took time to do research before penning their blogs or news articles. There was a time when being fair and accurate meant a lot to the reputation of a writer but now people are only about getting paid. We can write what we want and say what we want on national television and if inaccurate we chalk it up to being an opinion. As a reader you cannot let people string you along like that, so read and then do your own research if you care enough.
2. Be Patient. The truth has a way of finding itself to light with time and you can avoid looking like an idiot by holding off on tweeting opinions and writing tirades on your Facebook wall. Follow the case, take your own mental notes and when asked your opinion stay neutral unless you find the evidence to be enough to form an opinion.
3. Get your news from a variety of sources. It does no good to stay with sites that parrot one another when it comes to the latest drama or celebrity rumor. Find news sources that try their best to be honest and mix in an opinion blog or two with them. When you read from different sources it will force you to think objectively and you will begin to look at things from a clear view.
So going forward, here’s your homework. The next time some big thing goes viral… take a deep breath, read a few sites, and wait for the official investigation or whatever to finish. This way you won’t be another pawn of the media, acting and reacting in a predictable, negative way and you will have helped in the fight to take control of yourself.See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.