Social Media: A Buffet for Popular Opinion

Social MediaHow is it that so many of us that have never been outside the security of our cozy little white-picket-fence world and our 9-to-5 routine know so much about everything outside of it? Why is there always an evil conspiracy behind the policies that protect the interests of our Nation?

You could argue that it is because we don’t all agree on what our Nations interests are and we don’t all see or understand the near term or long-term implications of policy decisions. There is nothing wrong with social checks and balances…that is the beauty of our American Democracy. But this is not about what our rights are. What it boils down to is how we really view them, how we respect them and whether or not we actually see what it has taken to preserve them.It also comes down to how little we are willing to invest into getting to the bottom of the issues for ourselves.

There is always someone out there looking to create the right button to push. If traditional media was not enough to brainwash us into their respective ways of thinking, now we have the ultimate platform from which any card-totin’ activist can rapidly and effectively force their agenda with little or no difficulty….social media. Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong advocate of social media, but I do recognize that there are widely differing views on what is considered responsible use.

Here is an example…and remember, this is only one example. If you are in the group of citizens I mention in the opening line, which does make up the overwhelming majority, you probably believe that our bloody war in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last ten years was about oil or global supremacy…and maybe you would be right, in part. If you think you are not part of that group, you probably are, more so than you think, but deep down you may believe that those wars are about the long-term security of our homeland, our picket fence domain…and you, too, would probably be right, in part.

Since I am fairly sure some of you have grown accustomed to my media bashing, I should warn you that this particular entry in not as simple as that and may even offend some of you. In fact, I’m offended myself so in the spirit of unity, I apologize in advance to those of you who might take it personally when I say this…

We have lost the ability to think for ourselves.

If we go down in flames, I don’t really think we can blame inadequate representation or ineffectual policy decisions by our two dominant political parties. Not entirely anyway. I don’t like being limited in my choices for representation but that is the system we currently operate under and until we change it, it is what it is. The truth is, we will have ourselves to thank because of our reliance on others to think for us. What is left is an often uninformed and subjective opinion from which we individually select candidates that best conform to it,  collectively setting a course for the future of our Country. We have more tools at our disposal today than at any point in history to truly educate ourselves and formulate objective and informed opinions, yet as technology appeals more and more to our social and psychological needs, the importance of self actualization becomes an after-thought and we lose the ability to think for ourselves.

Today I took inventory, as my favorite person often says… but not personal inventory. I use the term here in a different context with a more literal interpretation. I took inventory! I actually counted the overwhelming number of hard left and hard right opinions in a one page news feed from Facebook. Try it…it will make you smile and then laugh out loud that a) you actually did it and b) that I’m right. Trust me, it will be funny and might even make your day…until you actually start reading them. If you are not careful though, you will find yourself a willing recruit in the ever-growing army of those who don’t have the time to educate themselves and rely on others to form their opinions for them through sound bites and clever little graphics. It is shotgun marketing at its best and it works…social media, especially Facebook is a perfect platform for it. Of the one billion FB users alone worldwide, I would wager a substantial stake in everything I own (and ever will) that the purveyors of these campaigns clearly see the mass marketing appeal and exploit it for all the “Likes” they can get.

Some will say…of course we rely on social media to help the mainstream media to inform us…and off course we will differ in opinion because of it. Many academic institutions would, in theory, consider just about any source to be helpful, though not necessarily credible in molding our opinions of an issue. I would agree with that, somewhat, however, there is a difference between using a source to HELP you form an opinion versus letting the source issue you one. And that is where we build these dangerous movements that have intrinsically limited their perspective by design…to gain as many followers as possible. There is nothing wrong with opposing perspectives and weighing both sides of an issue and then having an opinion based on that, whether it is rooted in fact or not. But letting someone else use fear and exclusivism to manufacture opinion is just plain wrong. Funny thing is, no one sees themselves getting issued an opinion…but then again, neither did the Germans.

Reblogged from CN November 29, 2012 PT



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