How Are Your Forming Opinions?


You will feel so much better, when you realize the news is pushing your buttons and not giving you the whole story.

The news is no longer the nightly news we grew up with – mostly straight with not much opinion. In fact if you were showing bias, you would get called out. If you are thinking that is still how it is and you are trusting it all, I am sorry to say that isn’t how it works anymore.

Now data shows what gets the most clicks. They can play with headlines to see which gets more views. Media is gathering info about people watching and tracking in the social media and websites. News is no longer about getting people information. It’s about getting clicks and having people come back for advertising revenue. TV news can use that information to mold what they say on their news/opinion shows.

News sites and shows must have found out it is outrage, opinion and fear that keep people coming back since that is what we are given.

And how can they give us that? By taking speeches out of context. By misinterpreting someone and then being outraged at the misinterpretation. By editing videos to show the opposite of what was said. By using a photo that is angled a certain way. They now base whole articles on one anonymous source, something that journalists would never think of doing before. I was a Communication and English double major is school. What they call journalism, would not have received a passing grade in my college. Fast and wrong now beats slow and correct.

The news cherry picks the worst of the “other side” so you start thinking everyone over there is crazy. That the news even thinks there is another side shows how far they have gone off the path. In reality, most people are decent and are trying to do the right thing. Most people are centrist people that don’t believe in the fringe (but the news wants us to believe the fringe is most people). The loudest people on Twitter and social media don’t think like most people. The people at various protests that are shown are picked out based on the narrative that media wants to show. They don’t represent an entire group of people. Not even everyone at the protest. But, division gets more clicks. If you can convince half the population that the other half is nuts, they win. If they can divide us by party, race, income, beauty, whatever they get more cash.

I have been feeling so much better now that I take the news with a grain of salt. While my Facebook friends are terribly upset about something, I hold my opinion because almost every time I find out what happened was not what was reported. I always go to the source, the whole video, the transcript. I see who is quoted and what bias they may hold. I no longer allow the news media to tell me how I need to think about an issue or tell me who I need to hate today.

If you look at all the news from the past couple of days and do your own research, how much holds up even a few days afterward? We are all human, so we are quicker to assume a story that matches up to our thinking is the real story. That’s when you have to triple check and see the other viewpoint.

Most people are not thinking about issues and forming an opinion. They are getting their opinion based on what news they watch. I got sucked into Twitter the past few weeks and what struck me was each side would be getting certain facts totally wrong. They never heard the corrections to stories or updates. They are spouting off “facts” that with a bit of research they would know are not true. Certain videos only showed up for Conservatives. Certain videos only showed up for Liberals. They aren’t seeing the same stories or are getting half a story so of course they are going to have different opinions. And you can tell what news they are watching, because the opinions are just like those sound bites. I love when I find thinkers on Twitter that talk in nuance instead of party sides.

Even on Facebook, we will see one side tell the other side to get their facts straight. As if only their side has a monopoly on truth, when in reality both sides are manipulated.

If you are only watching one news channel, or news with the same bias, you don’t know what is really going on. If you believe everything that the news says, you don’t know what is really going on. If you have the belief that everyone on one side is a certain way, you don’t know what is really going on. If you have chosen a side and form opinions based on what your team says, you don’t know what is really going on.

If we want to make a difference we need to focus on what we can influence. How we can affect the people around us by mentoring, having conversations, checking on our neighbors, holding food drives, or finding out what is happening in our local government. Next time you hear a story you are outraged about – get the facts. Then see if there is anything you can do. Often we find those outrage stories didn’t affect anything, except some people pretended to be upset about it.

The times are too important to follow blindly the outrage of the day.

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