As a liberal-leaning person, I get really pissed off when my obvious conservative friends and acquaintances share news stories from Fox News. These stories are obviously biased (“But only because the mainstream media is left-biased!”) and I don’t understand why anyone would ever be proud of getting their news from such a biased source. But Fox News isn’t even that bad compared to Breitbart or some of the other really questionable news sources out there. I’m talking the American News sites out there. Everything on these sites are so perfectly geared to target the conservative mindset it’s almost unbelievable. I don’t get how people can read shit that just confirms everything they believe and not be any bit suspicious of it.
I used the conservative news outlets as an example because they are most obvious to me as a left-leaning person. But the thing is that the left has it’s own bullshit websites and it’s own news (or even “news”) networks that conjure up the same hate and nonsense that the right has. It isn’t as visible (to me at least) but it’s there and it’s equally pathetic.
For the equivalent of Fox News you have MSNBC. While Fox has shit to prop up the conservative agenda and try to make Trump out to be a masterful genius, MSNBC does the exact same thing in the opposite direction by demonizing him. Everything is how terrible Trump is, how he’s destroying America, how he’s moments away from being impeached, and while the stories do present facts, the speculation and “meaning” of those facts is used to paint Trump is a highly negative view. How about Huffington Post? Nope. I’ve read enough stories from there to know that it’s going to be feel-good liberal propaganda to get me and other like-minded people riled up about Trump. I don’t know how Mother Jones compares to American News, but they seem to be nearly equal and opposites of the same idea: fear mongering to appeal to a single side. Democracy Now! seems even worse though, go check it out.
I really think part of the problem with our current state of sensationalized, polarized politics is due to this sort of one-sided news reporting, where facts take second stage to the speculation behind a story. Facts are pretty damn tame stuff that sound boring. Do an experiment for yourself: go to the BBC News website and then go to either American News, Mother Jones, or Democracy Now! and check out how “important and scary” the headlines sound; how scary is the world we live in? The BBC reports some boring facts: Trump got his travel ban knocked down (again), there was an earthquake in Greenland, and…whatever. The Huffington Post declares that “TRUMP SLIPS ON BAN APPEAL.” Same news story with the same facts but different presentation in the headline. American News pronounces on a video that “Anti Sharia Law Rallies Erupt in Major Cities Across the Country – Chaos Ensues [LOOK]” Wow. Holy shit! Apparently people are trying to push Sharia law in the US and there’s basically a WAR going on over how crazy this is? Apparently the BBC doesn’t give two shits about it, probably because it’s sensationalized bullshit that a cheap conservative news website shoveled out to rally their base. HuffPost also mentions that a congressman unveiled an impeachment draft against Trump, which is curiously absent from the front page of the other two websites, almost as if it’s sensationalized bullshit that a cheap liberal news website shoveled out to rally their base. Democracy Now! has a damn category at the top called “Impeachment.” Protip: Trump isn’t immediately on the verge of being impeached (He’s going to be impeached — I’ll bet money on it — but it doesn’t require a headline yet.). CNN, just for shits and giggles declares that “Dennis Rodman heading to North Korea.” CNN has good bigly news people…[Like everything else, I wrote this shit yesterday so the headlines changed; you won’t see the headlines I mentioned. I can’t keep up with this shit.]
I’m not saying the BBC are infallible journalists or whatever, they just seem to present dry facts with minimal bullshit that these other examples present. My point here is that if you are a conservative and only read/watch conservative news, aren’t you just being spoonfed a bunch of shit that you already know and that makes you feel comfortable in your worldview? The same goes for a liberal person as well: if you already know for a fact that Trump is the devil himself, why do you need to read a bunch of shit confirming it? Whenever I see a link shared on Facebook from HuffPost or Democracy Now! I never click it because I know it’s going to be shit. Same when I see a Fox News or American News or Liberty-Whatever-The-Fuck-News from someone proclaiming “They’re going to take our guns!” It’s confirmation bias in a near textbook form — no one wants to possibly accept a different worldview so we close our minds off from the possibility while simultaneously thinking we’re being open to new facts but not really.
It doesn’t all involve simple news websites and channels as well: it also applies to social media. I think I’ll write more about this later, but we all have our favor sites to visit and people to interact with. Do these influence our worldview in a negative way? Do they tell us happy things we already know? Do they scare us into sticking with our current beliefs? I frequent Reddit, and I’ll use it as an example. Check out the World News subreddit. It leans left and if you look at any posts about Donald Trump it will have tons of hate. It’s fun to read too. Now check out The_Donald. It speaks for itself. They’re Echo Chambers: places to hear the same confirming facts over and over again.
So, obviously, that all Sucks. There are facts – indisputable facts – but the interpretation of those facts is down to whoever you seem to ask. If all you read are these borderline news websites that just regurgitate your worldview you aren’t learning anything and aren’t doing anything to solve the problem. We all have our Echo Chambers that solidify our worldviews and this does nobody any favors. This applies to both political outlooks conservative and liberal alike, so don’t think you’re up on a high horse when everyone else is stupid. It goes without saying that this lack of mixing ideas and compromising Sucks and has a large part to play in how polarized our current state of politics is.