By: Anna Merezhko, January 30, 2017
Somewhere between news reporting and the incessant need to prove someone wrong, society has lost the one thing that all fact-checking news needs: facts. In his article “How the internet is loosening our grip on the truth,” Farhad Manjoo, of The New York Times, discussed the impending doom of honest internet news, but was there ever such a thing?
The problem with online news, he says, “is that… we have a lot more media to choose from.” When there are multiple resources spewing various information, “people rarely act like rational, civic-minded automatons. Instead we are roiled by preconceptions and biases ,and we usually do what feels easiest- we gorge on information that supports our ideas, and shun what does not.”
Manjoo makes the argument that because of our pre-existing biases and because of the infinite amount of news available to us, we choose to believe news that supports our worldviews. If each of our individual experiences makes us biased, is it possible to have unbiased news? A news station that primarily advocates for the republican party cannot be unbiased towards liberals and vice versa. Does that mean that the media is distributing news that supports their worldview? If the news we receive is already tainted with other people’s bias, can we ever get the truth?
When we head into territory where truth is left to each individual interpretation, we are met with the question of what truth means. By definition, if something is true, it is “in accordance with fact or reality.” So what happens when we do not have the answer of what is fact or reality because of insufficient knowledge/evidence? For example, the never-ending debate of when life begins- at conception or after birth? Theism or Atheism? Where do we go when we die? Afterlife or no afterlife?
Manjoo’s article sounds sincere and knowledgable if you look at it from the perspective that truth is concrete, but more and more, society is blurring the lines between fact and fiction. This is not just because of our numerous media sources.
Our grasp of what is true and what is not, lies in the hands that feed us information. What was true seventy years ago, is not true now. For centuries people believed that the earth was flat. People believed that cigarettes weren’t bad for your health. With time, these things were proven to be false. Isn’t it foolish and arrogant to believe that something is most definitely fiction or most definitely fact?
In a perfect world, we would have all the answers- whether there is life on mars, whether there is a heaven and hell, etc. It is never as simple as “One either gets the ‘true’ news, or is lost in the sea of ‘untrue’ news.” As a society, the only thing we could do is stay as unbiased as we can in the truths that we choose and do no harm to those who choose to believe otherwise.