Opinion (noun); a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
Fact (noun); a thing that is known or proved to be true.
It’s time that we learnt the difference.
As a society we are inundated with knowledge. It has become so easy for us to access information that an innate fear lies in just how much is out there. Our reliance on the media has given birth to a whole new set of anxieties in how we are using it to discern right from wrong, or similarly, fail to do so.
This idea that ‘knowledge is power’ is no stranger in today’s society and acts as one of the biggest pieces in the game of chess that is media anxiety and control. The fear of what we don’t know has given way to a fear of what we do and how we use it, giving rise to a whole new paradox. Is our access to information a blessing or a curse?
If we look back in history we can see that before the media became central to popular culture, society was under a veil of control. Generally, ideas were limited by the powers within society simply because there was no other avenue to know any better.
Take the Vietnam War for example- the use of media added fuel to the fire of the anti-war movement, thus playing a vital role in it’s demise;
“Television brought the brutality of war into the comfort of the living room. Vietnam was lost in the living rooms of America — not on the battlefields of Vietnam.” – Marshall McLuhan
To limit an individual’s media consumption is to defy their basic rights to information, yet many believe that such actions need to be taken in order to control and monitor an increasingly independent society. Take North Korea for example; the internet is censored to the point that whenever Kim Jong-Un’s name appears it is in slightly larger text proving to be a not-so-subtle reminder of his constant presence. So where do we draw the line between the control of society and the control of the media?
The thing is, we shouldn’t have to. While the anxiety relies in the amount of accessible information, a examination of audience response is at the real heart of this fear. Popular discourse is no longer the moral compass that guides us through the maze of society, and instead opinions are raised, challenged and re-evaluated to the point of extinction. Media is becoming our moral compass, a shift which is proving to be a double edged sword.
If we look at the whole food trend debacle that has fallen upon us recently we see how the sheer amount of information has left us inundated with options, making it hard to discern right from wrong. This had given resurgence to a whole new set of complications, one being a seeming increase in orthorexia, a condition characterised by an obsession with healthy eating. Paleo, Raw ‘till 4, Teatox, the 2 and 5, even the blood type diet have all been endorsed by celebrities with pearly white teeth and ironing board stomachs, thus creating a new craze of fad diets with dangerous results. Yet do we know whether any of these actually work? Or if there is any science involved at all? The misinformation of information is real, and they way society treats ideas and opinions as fact is alarming.
Fear can lead to misinformation just as easily as misinformation leads to fear, especially with media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook accelerating the process. Media is an avenue for knowledge, but with this comes power and responsibility. However, the media is not the primary suspect in the game of pointing fingers. Instead, the hand should be turned as we examine the way we as an audience consume information. The need to discern accurate information from social myth is a serious point of concern- one which has the potential to shape media consumption in ways we may have never though possible. The anxiety of information is a human creation, accelerated by humans, affecting humans, yet blaming the media. Something doesn’t quite add up…
Blame (verb); feel or declare that (someone or something) is responsible for a fault or wrong.
It’s time we start taking some.