“This is the age of spin. The age where nobody knows what the f*ck they’re even looking at.”
– Dave Chappelle
Yep. That’s where we are today.
The political arena has become nearly impossible to navigate. You can hardly blame someone for being unable to keep their facts straight, or for being unconsciously biased in one direction or another. The messages people mean to convey cannot always be attributed to the words that they actually speak. Implications are never to be taken for granted.
And even the best of us with the best possible intentions, who only seek to be informed and stay woke, are left floundering amidst an overwhelming onslaught of questionable and unverified “facts” and opinions that may or may not have any basis in reality.
We’re emotionally-driven creatures, which is the beauty of us, as well as our detriment. Whatever the emotion is – be it love and compassion, or greed and hate – it dictates the decisions we make, the passions that arise within us, and the actions we take.
These emotions can be blinding, though. We watch the news that resonates with how we’re already feeling, and we like, share, and follow the pundits who parrot one another with slightly different emphasis on various talking points. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a few new chuckles from one late night talk show host, or you’ll find a unique tidbit buried somewhere in Rachel Maddow’s not-so-brief briefing.
Not many of us voyage over to the other side, the side that makes us feel uncomfortable, confused, or even angry.
There’s a sense of overwhelm. There’s always something coming from one direction or another. There’s always a groundbreaking election on the horizon with new candidates that we have to quickly assess and decide who we want to win, even if the election isn’t in our country. There’s always something crazy coming out of the White House that we have to attempt to understand and form an opinion on.
The Daily Show has even recently introduced a segment called, “So Much News, So Little Time.” It’s too much.
And with all of that, we have to keep a clear perspective on how it all fits into the big picture. It makes sense that we so often retreat to our own sides, the left or the right, and just assume the alignments that our side dictates. It’s easier that way, and for the most part, it’s probably safe.
But while it might be safe, in the sense that your views probably already align with what’s out there, it’s also divisive and close-minded. It leaves no room for introspection, growth, or understanding.
Jim Parsons, the star of The Big Bang Theory, recently said in an interview that he tries to take in media from the left and the right, just in case he realizes that he has a conservative point of view. And that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
“I want to hear the reason behind everything else. It’s a little crazy-making.”
Crazy-making, indeed, but you’ve got to give him props for attempting to understand “what the f*ck [he’s] even looking at.”
The mainstream media will never be unbiased, but more than ever, there are outlets and groups that are at least trying to present the facts without any obvious leanings. However, facts can also be tricky, and they often require some prior knowledge of the history of certain conflicts, scandals, legislature, etc.
It’s a lot to take in, especially if you’re just jumping into the fray.
Half the battle is just cutting through the bullsh*t just to get to the actual message. For example, upon James Comey’s removal from the FBI, Newt Gingrich said on Fox News,
“The elite media and the hard left is desperate to avoid the reality that Donald Trump won; that Hillary Clinton lost.”
What exactly was his point in bringing that up, and why was it relevant to his overall message? At this point, it’s just a thing the right uses to discredit the rhetoric and concerns coming from the left. If anything, though, it’s disarming and destabilizing, which is often the goal behind comments like that.
On that note, we’ve also seen the return of Kellyanne Conway, and subsequently, Anderson Cooper’s epic eye-roll. Similarly, I’m not sure what Donald Trump’s victory in Michigan during last year’s election has to do with President Trump’s conflicting statements regarding James Comey, but she certainly has a knack for distracting from the main point of the discussion.
We’ve missed you, Kellyanne… ::eye-roll::
No, none of this is new. And no, none of this is going anywhere. But this is more of an issue now than it has ever been before. Every day, we face a never-ending barrage of news clips, headlines, and emotionally-driven memes that only tell a fraction of the story. We become so desensitized to how ridiculous everything is that we just laugh at political cartoons without remembering that people’s lives are being affected.
And as a people, we’re getting dumber. We’re losing our ability to comprehend issues and to put them into perspective. We’re forgetting how to consider the other side and how it could benefit or negatively affect our fellow Americans. We’re losing sight of the fact that our nation is a major player on the global field. And we’re losing our sense of compassion.
Ego, narcissism, money, and position dominate so much of what runs this country – in the White House and in the media. But these things only benefit a select few, and more likely than not, you’re not one of them.
Our best defense, at this point, is to stay informed. Read the paper. Watch the news. Take a step back. Stop and think about what’s driving your opinions before spouting them off in a Twitter rant or Instagram meme. Because without a basic understanding of the world and the people who live in it, what chance does progress have of pushing forward?