By: Ron Brown
Mark Twain reportedly said if you put 100 black ants and 100 red ants in a jar, nothing would happen. But if you then shook the jar, the two groups would start killing each other. I can easily see a parallel in today’s society. I have never seen this country so polarized on so many issues.
So who is shaking the jar?
To me it is obvious. While there are several levels to this, one example being the changing mores in our society due to our increasing secularity, the media clearly stands out as being the shakers.
We no longer have objectivity in our conveyance of information today. First of all, most of what we are exposed to daily is politically oriented news. Furthermore, objectivity is out and opinions and agendas are in. Deciding what to include and what to omit in the conveyance is paramount. Lay down a few facts and cover this with lots of opinions driven by an agenda and that is much of what constitutes news today. Collusion by corporate media with the same agenda is common. Routinely, different media with the same agenda will lead with the same story and the same spin, the result of earlier consensus on what the biased media focus should be for the day. Social media further exacerbates the problem.
What we are left with is an ignorant consumer, who then votes with total lack of understanding. It would appear the corporate media decided long ago that the consuming public was too ignorant to be able to interpret and understand objective news so they had to editorialize on the news to further our understanding. Once that happened, it was natural to choose sides in an issue. Once a side was chosen, corporate media “cherry picked” events it would report on, selecting those supporting their agenda and omitting coverage of those events that distracted from the agenda. The natural evolution of editorialized news was consumers politically aligned with the media’s agenda and became loyal listeners, rejecting media outlets with opposing viewpoints. Seeing an opportunity, other media outlets polarized themselves in order to pick up disenchanted listeners and, as a result, we have our totally polarized, useless and propagandized media.
So where is the tragedy? Truth in our society has been devalued and rejected. Our society hears so much crap today we neither know what nor whom to believe. The average voting citizen is so ignorant of the truth today they cannot vote intelligently so they vote emotionally. The result is that we vote for candidates and on issues that are frequently not in our best interest, personally or nationally. Voter’s lack of understanding result in leaders who weaken our country and devalue what we stand for as a nation because our leaders are unable to solve the country’s problems and effectively address issues. We vote for a party because the political issues presented to us by media are too confusing to understand from the information presented to us and voting “party” is the lazy, easy way out. We vote party because the lies about the candidates are so prevalent that we cannot hope to evaluate the character nor values of the participants. Politics at all levels is so obscure that the voter has lost all control over the process. Garbage in, garbage out.
Without an objective media, journalism no longer holds politicians accountable for their votes, their lack of success in addressing problems, their lack of ethics, their transgressions and bribes. These transgressions likely run the full spectrum in the power rich and privileged environment enjoyed by leadership. If you can imagine it, politicians have likely got away with it because of a two-tiered judicial standard and lack of objective reporting of these events to the public.
Another casualty of the polarization of media is the dissolution of personal friendships due to political differences. With the prevalence of dishonest political reporting and the emotionalism involved today, many of us no longer associate with friends we have known for years. In discussions with a 30 year friend of the mine who values opposing political views, I realized we could not have a meaningful discussion because his source of “facts” gleaned from his news supplier had nothing in common with my supplier. Examples he used to support his thoughts were unknown to me as my supplier never reported that information and I suspect he experienced the same frustration. I knew his comments mirrored what he had heard from his media. While we trade Christmas cards, we no longer associate. Clearly a casualty of biased media. When politics consumed less of our lives, we got along well and enjoyed each other’s company. Politics was rarely discussed or valued. But political news is everywhere today. Today, we often steer away from folks politically invested and opposed to our views, leaving association and political dialogue only with those holding similar views and values.
Biased media has polarized our country, dumbed down our voters, marginalized our leadership in the eyes of the public, devalued truth in our society, weakened our voting processes, and corrupted our leadership. We, as a country, deserve so much more.