How Custom News Feeds Narrow Our View
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | April 2018 (edited January 13, 2022)
Living with Catered Information
The age of social media and mass data has simplified our lives, removing the need to think. We are provided a serving of daily news catered to our desires.
We live in a different world. Media has shifted from traditional mediums to catered servings from Google, Facebook and Twitter. New Mass data processing shuffles through oodles of information, customizing a specialized collection that is guaranteed to pique our interest, saving us time, effort, and narrowing our existence. Truth ignores personal preferences, existing on a much larger buffet table. We must fight the machines that zero in on liberal or conservative tendencies and explore the depths of human existence.
“For to seek the truth, we always run the risk of discovering what one would hate to see.”
We Must Recognize News Bias
When we are open to learning, we must willingly bump against previous held beliefs. We never can know it all. Experience leaves deeply imprinted biases, many are misguided or even straight up wrong. We can allow media to sustain and strengthen those biases with customized feeds or we can expand our exposure, fighting immediate impulses of conflict for greater understanding.
We must mindfully examine bias, not ignorantly let the biased programming channel our beliefs into a station's preset biased beliefs. News channels both target an audience and create an audience. This happens whether you watch CNN or Fox News.
While many channels attempt to disguise bias, and present political views with fair and equal coverage. they fail mightily. An interesting 2005, paper examined the impact of bias transmitted through non-verbal means by the interviewer. The paper concluded that "hostile behavior of a TV interviewer can probably cause damage to the image of the interviewee in the eyes of the viewers..." ( Babad, 2005).
Even though a program may invite alternate views, their non-verbal reactions, portraying disgust or rejection, impacts viewers reception or rejection.
Impact of News Media Bias
In a 2021 research paper measuring media bias, the authors wrote, "partisan media bias can also contribute to segregated political agendas...citizens' affective polarization, and decreased inter-party and media trust... (Castro, 2021).
Our wide choice of media preferences is effectively narrowing our views, creating greater divisions, and giving power to political beasts that feed upon the hate. As biased media outlets separate citizens, creating distrust and hate, power hungry demagogues will seize the opportunity to channel the hate to advance their self-promoting agendas.
"In order to resolve conflict constructively, so that all parties are satisfied with the outcome, a person must be able to hold all the opposing ideas, positions, and perspectives in mind at the same time and still function effectively."
David W. Johnson Ed.D. | Psychology Today
We Must Expand Our Views
The most dangerous bigot is the one that believes he (or she) is above bigotry. For those that are blind that claim to see; not only do they hate, but excuse their hate as perfectly acceptable, believing those who are different are evil. They rigidly split judgements. People who believe like me are 'good'. Those who believe differently are 'evil'. Such judgments ignorantly suffer from the self-fulfilling proclivities of the mind, they follow vile and repulsive judgements, justifying heinous wrongs by cloaking hurtful behavior in righteous indignation.
I’m not an alarmist, always chasing conspiracy theories. Most fears of widespread corruption are defensive escapisms for the feeble minded, seeking shocking excuses for an underproductive live. But the mass data era, with all its wonderful enhancements, is disturbing, not because of a corrupt government posed to take over our lives, but because of the nasty side-effects that polarize people, creating uncrossable chasms of conflicting beliefs.
"The same facts can have different meanings when seen from different perspectives. The perspective each person adopts influences what is considered central or peripheral, obvious or obscure, and even present or absent."
David Chan | The Straits Times
We must fight this, listening to opinions outside of our comfort zones, exploring alternate views, and embracing friends who think a little different.
The problems of the world will not all be solved in our life time. Hate will still exist across the globe; but maybe, just maybe, we can add a little more love, a little more understanding, and a little more hope within our own spheres of influence, by keeping essential conversations alive, listening to the running dialogue of differences, and slowly finding common ground where real progress can be achieved.
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