“All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.”— Douglas Adams, Salmon of Doubt
I am new to blogging but have been arguing excessively for decades, we will see how it translates to blogging.
Rhetoric is not dead, but is is definitely on life support.
The Media of my early life delivered facts and figures and allows us to make our own conclusions on how we feel, that has been replaced by Social Media and Mainstream media that plays on our fears to dictate how we should feel and more importantly, how we should act. Conflicts in Class, race, gender, sexual orientation and political alignment have all been heightened by the hands of this new media and our society has suffered.
Who is pushing the buttons?
We would like to think that Social Media is a back to basics, grass-roots movement fueled by individuals and that is partly true, Organized efforts by political parties, industries, foreign governments, mainstream media and other special interest groups are steering the ship. Their influence trickles down to the individuals who perpetuate the message quickly and efficiently migration the public conversations from one topic to the next.
Facts vs. Feelings
In this new arena, feelings tend to sway better than facts. There is no better way to get people’s control than to scare the crap out of them. As a person who highly values reason, and logic, this is what I find most troublesome about Twitter and Facebook. Anyone, anywhere can exaggerate or concoct a “truth” and have it out to the world in a manor of minutes. And if you put it onto a pretty picture and call it a Meme, people will share it endlessly without checking to see if it is true.
“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”, is a law of propaganda often attributed to the Nazi Joseph Goebbels.
Each of these false truths travel through the internet and eventually are weighted the same as facts in our daily lives. I see them repeated from my personal conversations all the way up to the leaders in politics and business.
We are all personally responsible for the words that we pass on to others
If you share a meme, link or story with another person just because it fits your current view without first checking it for accuracy, then you are part of the problem. We have grown as a species because we have been able to impart to our descendants, the collected wisdom and knowledge of the entire human experience, but this can work in reverse. Propaganda causes division, wars, violence, it replaces our history with falsehoods and we need to learn the lessons all over again at a great price. I value free speech, but with this right comes the responsibility to be true.
What is the solution?
To see the solution, we need to look only as far as Finland. For over a decade, Finland and other countries have been bombarded with an information war set in place by Russia. False news stories and conspiracy theories theories were targeted to Finland in order to undermine their confidence in their own society and fan the flames problems. In order to recover from this information war, Finland started in the Primary schools, teaching and enforcing fact checking and source-checking everything that they see in the media. This has created a new generation of Finish people resistant to the negative influence of propaganda.
Our success in maintaining our harmony, diversity and history will be in integrating this logical thinking and fact and source checking into our public school curriculum. Without this our downward spiral will continue and our way of life will be over.
Foreign Policy – Why is Finland able to fend off Putin’s Information War