Truth & Balance Vs. The Side of The Story That Sells Best

July 23, 2014 — 4 Comments

By no means is this a conclusive run down on what I see as the need to find, and advocate for, a fair use of the vehicles we choose to communicate and receive information through.  By pointing out inconsistencies and connecting them to a possible cause, my purpose here is primarily an attempt just to reflect upon it.

Recently an incident showed, to me, the contrast between hard reality and cheap comment. Comments from people, who in the comfort of relative security, only seem to be far more concerned with the side of the story that sells best, than with finding balance.

To his credit, Bennett pushes back against the leading questions made by the anchor-man, quickly realising and not without some frustration that the interview had ended before it really had begun.

Remarking:

“…You’re invited to a situation like this..it’s just great sitting on the sidelines, just telling us how to react” {2:39} – (Naftali Bennett, Isreal’s Economic Minister)

Australian journalist and political commentator Andrew Bolt, in support of Bennett, rightly noted:

It’s easy to say “disproportionate” when you’re sitting in London

The same applies to social media.

Yes, we need make room for each other. Patience is the imperative (if not the virtue), mainly because we are all still trying to figure out how to use this technological freedom responsibly.

Social media, however, like some aspects of it’s macro counterpart can become a misinformation behemoth. In spite of the evidence or any quest for the truth and balance. At its core is subjective suspicion, dismissive ridicule and cynical discounting. Surely, this is far from what media outlets mean by the term integrity and investigative journalism.

In the hands of resourceful and ambitious communicators, its potential as the ultimate propaganda machine is disturbing.

As hashtags and memes trend towards the ridiculous. The misuse of the mechanism allows an industrial grade hysteria to push a smoke screen of emotions over the facts, extinguishing balance and respectful dialogue.

A restrained and civilised exchange of ideas is set adrift by an unrestrained tribalism that marches alongside images signed by oversimplification.

The march of memes takes to the virtual street as the intellectual stamp of approval shows the same characteristics as that of Edward Bernays (1891-1995) and the mass marketing concepts borrowed chiefly from fundamental fascism and its control of images.

By calling upon those willing to mindlessly wave around clichés and slogans, a mob-in-revolt is created.Its cause gathers momentum, often damning as “hate” anything that stands to speak freely in reasoned disagreement.

The mob-in-revolt lowers protest to the quantity of “likes, shares or follows”. Sometimes asserting itself under a mechanic of anonymity which denies their target of protest any right of reply.

As a result careless words fuel an irate frenzy of boycotts, accusation and intolerance.

The ivory colossus’s of cyber communities end up inadvertently propagating totalitarianism. Inviting a repugnant irony through the vitriolic intolerance exhibited by some irresponsible and repressive armchair activists.

With small amounts of fact and information these glass houses become the launching pad for mobile projectiles of shame and exclusion.

An ‘activism’ like this measures efficiency by likes, shares and/or followers. This is because ‘thoughtless approval’ can be translated into hard currency. In this case, why not mindlessly wave flags and howl with the wolves? The assumption being that if the price is right, so the comment should be also.

The questions then are:

Does self-interest, in a quest for approval, play a role in commenting, liking or sharing? If so do such considerations hinder an authentic, responsible but also vulnerable contribution? Does it drive out self-respect the same way that the mindless-mob-in-revolt drives out  decency and the respect for others?

American President John Adams, citing the prophet Jeremiah, wrote:

‘Let me conclude, by advising all men to look into their own hearts, which they will find to be deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer.17:9). Let them consider how extremely addicted they are to magnify and exaggerate the injuries that are offered to themselves, and to diminish and extenuate the wrongs that they offer to others. They ought, therefore, to be too modest and diffident of their own judgment, when their own passions and prejudices and interests are concerned…’[i]

The caution here cries out for a fair hearing.

We should not politicise the pain of others.

We can do this by removing any hint of benefit to our social standing, and unmasking the transactions that hide self-interest behind indifference or behind a facade of good intentions.

As Australian scholar, John Dickson, in a comment about a recent debate on Facebook suggested, perhaps it’s time to ‘redeem the medium’[ii].

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem


References:

{Dedicated to the memory of Jean Bethke Elshtain (1941-2013), a list of her works can be found here.}

[i] Adams, J. 1851 On Private Revenge http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2101 #Adams_1431-03_2153 Sourced: 23/07/2014
[ii] Dickson wrote this in response to the suggestion that he move a discussion to another site, because of the communication limitations of social media.

4 responses to Truth & Balance Vs. The Side of The Story That Sells Best

  1. 

    It is shameful that you can’t just get news and facts anymore. There is always an attempt on the part of those reporting to bring the audience around to their own views and political leanings. “…perhaps it’s time to ‘redeem the medium” Indeed, it is…

    Like

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. R.A. Markus: ‘Christian Hope Does Not Permit a Politically Sterile Withdrawal.’ « Gratia Veritas Lumen - July 25, 2014

    […] [i] “Truth & Balance Vs. The Side of The Story That Sells Best” [ii] Shalom, motherf****r. | Eitan Chitayat | Ops & Blogs | The Times of Israel […]

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  2. A Response To Travis McMaken’s Five Reasons To Go Barthian « Gratia Veritas Lumen - August 16, 2016

    […] This kind of muscling shows that at its worst the Left have no problem with overlooking some aspects of Barth’s theo-political action and thought. Bypassing these in order to conscript Barthian’s and Barthian theology into the service of Leftism by way of the modern political trend to argue half-truths against balance, for the side of the story that sells best. […]

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