Wednesday, May 27, 2020

How to read a newspaper…

In reality I guess I have many pet peeves, but one that truly annoys me is when people read a simple headline or re-post a Facebook meme and repost without bothering to test the truth of the content. Now this flaw really has little to do with politics, religion or lifestyle choices — I honestly think it is simply a matter of reading or hearing ONLY WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR and then being so determined to prove that you couldn’t possibly be mistaken.

First of all, and I’ve told this story before, I had a Junior High School teacher who taught his class a very valuable lesson; The ONLY way you could truly be sure of your beliefs was to understand other viewpoints. He said that if you couldn’t even listen to another opinion there was no real way you could be sure that you were “right”. Basically every time you close yourself off to other people’s thoughts, you really don’t have anything to back up your own way of thinking. It is only when you have a lot of information at hand that you can make an informed decision.

Everything you read on the Internet is NOT necessarily true, and neither is any one “news source” guaranteed to present honest reporting. There are also many who go only as far as a headline and never bother to actually read the content of the article. And of course there are folks who limit themselves to a sole source of “news” and never check-out IF that source is reliable or not. I am not trying to get you to agree or disagree with me, or to choose one candidate over another — I only want you to look at multiple sources, review the facts and THINK FOR YOURSELF.

I certainly am not perfect, sometimes it is difficult to get ALL of the information you might need to understand what really is going on, and there are a few times I’ve made mistakes. If you spend time on a site like FaceBook I am sure you have seen those popular memes that keep getting reposted only to be followed by a litany of corrections and complaints. This can certainly be avoided (you’ll probably never avoid all the complaints) if you take the time to check the info. If you come across a meme or headline that has Chicken Little shouting that “the sky is falling” take the time to search for that information. If you are online simply Google the phrase, how many other sources are reporting the same thing, or, how many sources are saying exactly the opposite? Based on your findings it may be easier to believe one way or the other.

Many of us tend to become complacent and comfortable listening to just one radio station or read one newspaper and while limiting yourself to just the one source of news if by itself dangerous, how do you really know that you can trust that information? After getting into a political debate with a friend I learned that her sole source of info came a single news broadcast channel so I looked the channel up. No, it wasn’t the stories I was interested in, I wanted to know WHO was behind this newen channel. Imagine my surprise when I found corporate info that told about an owner who had been accused of an actually indicted on a few charges of illegally terminating his employees if they dared to report any negative news about the owner’s favorite politician! And just to be sure of what I had found, I looked up another source and found very similar information!

What I am trying to say is always check your facts. If you find multiple sources that agree with your original point of view, terrific! Whether I agree with you or not I can respect your opinion because you’ve taken the time to educate yourself and make up your own mind. Maybe, just maybe, the information you found will change your mind and that is good too. We are all entitled to our personal views, so long as we really understand why we feel the way we do. And if you really want to convince others to believe the way you do then understanding their side will help you present facts and possibly even change their mind. But above all, we all have to be willing to hear other viewpoints and respect other opinions.

Here’s to a little less arguing and a little more progress down the road.


No comments: