Deciphering the Slant

Deciphering information on the internet and from the news networks can be daunting. What can you do about it?

Trying to decipher today’s media spins and buzz can literally give you a headache.  The beauty of the internet is also the problem with the internet; unlimited amount of opinion and data.  It doesn’t matter what you share anymore or where you share it from; someone is going to accuse you of using biased opinionated media.  Well, guess what?  Every ounce of media, especially from the major news networks, is biased or slanted in one direction or another.  News journalism is no longer objective; everyone has their agenda to fill and defend.  That doesn’t leave the consumer much to work with; especially those consumers who just want to know what the hell is actually going on.  Unfortunately, there is no perfect system to get around the bias.  Almost all of us shave shared some information that was not true or completely taken out of context in order to serve a purpose.  I think you simply have to find a source or an individual that you trust.

Trust.  Trust is such a loaded word.  It’s difficult to trust people we know well half the time let alone someone in the news media.  However, there are still certain sources out there that are doing their best to be objective, although that is almost impossible to accomplish in modern day journalism.  The difficult task set before you is deciding which source you are going to allocate your time to.  There is so much intense information out there, some which is literally false, that you will lose yourself in an ocean of statistics, quotes, and attacks that serve you no purpose.  So, the art of listening and reading about current events and people originates with knowing which media sources to give your attention to, and which to share.  Sometimes you are going to get hoodwinked.  Don’t stress about it.  It’ going to happen.  You will share a picture depicting a rally in New Jersey that is actually a picture taken in Houston.  It happens often.  The news can so easily be manipulated because so many people use social media as their doorway to the news.  Facebook is becoming the Expedia for news sources.  How do you organize it all in that huge brain of yours?  Here are a few tips.

Pick one or two sources that you can trust.  As I mentioned above, this is not necessarily the easiest task to accomplish.  I’ve noticed on social media, however, that when people share political and social news that they consistently use the same source (Addicting Info, Chicks on the Right, Vice News, etc.)  A lot of my closer friends think this is narrow-minded.  I disagree.  Personally, I love it.  Let’s be honest with each other; we live exceptionally busy lives and we simply do not have time to stat check every news story out there using multiple sources.  We do not have the time.  If you have found a source that you intensely like and trust, then it makes sense to me to continually use that source for your news and information foundation.  I digest a lot of information from a lot of different places, but I definitely have my trustworthy foundation as well.  My preferences include the king of radio, Rush Limbaugh, and a new young gun my wife turned me on to, Tomi Lahren from One America News Network.  I trust the both of them and will continue to do so until they betray my trust; which doesn’t mean disagreeing with them.

Still exercise diversity.  I listen to Rush Limbaugh.  I watch Bill Mahr.  I watch the Kelly File.  I watch Rachel Maddow (with a painful look on my face).  I read the Drudge Report.  I read The Blaze.  I read The Politico.  I watch Tomi Lahren.  Do I like and agree with all of these sources?  Absolutely not.  I do, however, understand that you cannot solely rely on your trustworthy foundation for everything.  If you do, then you are probably doing yourself and all of those around you a disservice.  If you enjoy a source that leans heavily to the right, watch a show or read an article that leans to the left occasionally.  I know a lot of my conservative friends believe such ideology to be an absolute waste of time, but I find diversity in news gathering a must with our current landscape of biased reporting.  I think by now many of you know how I feel about the liberal biased media.  It isn’t a good feeling.  Nonetheless, it is still good to diversify.  I will tell you this; if it’s not entertaining or I don’t trust the source then I’m not wasting my time.  You will rarely find me tuned in to Bill O’Reilly, Anderson Cooper, John King, or Candy Crowley.  I simply can’t stomach it.

Check your facts.  We are all guilty of sharing vague information or memes at some point in the social media world.  Why?  Because it doesn’t attach any responsibility to the person sharing the information, or in most cases the opinion.  It’s simply a blunt statement derived from an event or cause occurring in the current news cycle that one simply doesn’t have time to research, but quickly reflects how they feel about that situation or event.  I’ve done it before.  Many times.  It’s also bit me in the rear end a time or two as well.  Personally, it really doesn’t bother me.  However, when you start sharing information and memes loaded down with statistics and number crunching, I find it necessary to do a little research before blindly posting it to the world.  Numbers can be manipulated to the point of becoming outright lies, and that is exactly what we see numerous times a day in social media.  In fact, it can be mere minutes after an event takes place for the social media junkies to have multiple memes up and running and spreading like wild fire.  I have received criticism that on certain occasions my blog posts are a touch behind the news cycle for particular issues.  I agree.  They are.  However, it takes some time for me to digest a lot of the information out there before deciding how I really feel about an issue, if I feel anything at all.  I refuse to blindly jump in an hour after a tragedy and start railing away at people and institutions before we even really understand what happened.  It takes a little bit of time for me.  If you don’t check you facts, then hopefully there is someone out there to put you in your place; as they should.

Against the Grain.  Take everything you read and hear with a grain of salt.  Once you have listened to multiple sources on a news story, the fact remains that you probably were not there during the event.  You, along with the rest of the country, have to depend on someone else’s version of the story.  The true test is trying to decipher which version to pay attention to.  There’s only so much that you can do about it.  Really.  I don’t think it’s something to stress about or lose sleep over.  But, I do find it wise to listen to as many versions as possible and look for the similarities in the stories.  Then, do the best you can to make an educated decision on what really happened.  Remember to pick your favorites, use a diverse palate of sources, check facts when necessary, and then allow your gut feelings to handle the rest.  I think a lot of us know when we are having the wool pulled over our eyes.  The unfortunate truth to all of this is that a lot of folks don’t know it.

I recently had an acquaintance make a statement to me concerning Planned Parenthood.  They thought it was outrageous how representatives for The Center for Medical Progress were acting like extremists in their effort to destroy and discredit Planned Parenthood on false allegations.  Wow.  That’s a turnaround from the way I saw things.  I eventually found out that this person had not watched the video of Dr. Deborah Nucatola talking about harvesting body organs, and I suggested they watch it as soon as possible.  You see, sometimes a lot of us will make statements about things that we simply do not have the fundamental information for.  It happens to all of us, but the goal should be to make it happen as little as possible.  Honestly, I would watch as little as possible if I were you and take a stroll through the woods or polish off the fishing pole lounging in the corner of your garage.  Those activities have a better chance of fulfilling your life then watching any news source discuss anything that they have deemed important to your life.  Chances are it probably isn’t important, and you’ll end up stressing about things that you can literally do nothing about.  There is a difference between knowing current events and obsessing over them.  We, as humans, should never obsess over anything, except American football.  Enjoy the afternoon folks.

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