We’ve been living an era where we have unbridled access to what goes in the world at all times and that too through multiple media platforms. One can receive his/her daily news consumption via television, newspaper, radio, internet or broadcast. With the advent of the internet, the readership, viewership and people’s dependence on traditional news outlets have reduced drastically and has overwhelmed people with what’s going around the world at all times.
The news covers a lot of dark, and horrifying stories and they do it precisely because of the innate tendency of humans to focus more on the bad than the good. It’s a survival mechanism and helped our ancestors survive. However, media outlets and social media platforms only make use of these innate mechanisms to keep us glued to the screens. Their algorithm provides us with information similar to what we might have searched for before and as a result, it keeps us glued to our devices while things that can take up our time and interest come up one after the other. They simply get paid to do this, the longer we see their ads or stay on those platforms, the more data we’re giving them and the more money they make.
In this time and age, “truth-finding” has been almost meaningless. For every fact, there lies an equally strong and opposing fact and the term “fact” has often been used to refer to opinions too. Many soft drink companies, meat industries and so many other industries have paid scientists to publish false reports about their products, just to keep the layman blind to the side-effects of all these harmful substances.
“History is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books—books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe. As Napoleon once said, ‘what is history, but a fable agreed upon?”
The methods of exploitation are many and they are used to control how a general populace feels about something. If it benefits the rich and the powerful, they can go to any extent to alter the information. Many news channels or political discussions are extremely ambiguous and at times pointless, as they only try to throw the blame from one person to another and none take responsibility. These debates or “arguments” are done to frustrate the public and make it difficult to interpret the reality. It also confuses people to relinquish control to the ones in power.
The news covers a wide array of topics and the viewers/listeners are left with a lot of information to make sense of. This can at times overwhelm people and such a phenomenon is often called “information overload”. It can have a diverse range of effects on the body, like hinder our deep thinking functions; reduce the time under concentration, increase irritability, aggressiveness or a vague sense of vexation.
Health sciences are currently in a perplexed state because of this. Different sources mention completely conflicting information at times and this can lead to a difference in opinions and beliefs which can in turn cause short-scale or large-scale disputes amongst the interested parties. To be precise, this is the case with almost every area of interest. At times, researches are ambiguous or are not done properly. Research that does blind studies (being extremely mindful of the placebo problems) are peer-reviewed and meta-analysed can be deemed worthy of being good research. Unfortunately, not everybody has full access to these or the scientific knowledge to make sense of such terms.
Finding the truth can be a daunting task in this time and age but the layman isn’t completely defenceless against the barrage of misleading and contradictory information. It’s always advisable to accept the news we get from television channels and newspapers with a pinch of salt as they often dictate opinions rather than actual facts. These sources are also extremely time-consuming so it is advisable to download news applications which can give a summary or detailed report of the incidents at well. Looking out for websites ending with .org or .gov can go a long way and using true sources is always advisable. One can always go to the source of the news and check its reviews and year of publication and similar researches that might offer a different opinion whenever and wherever mentioned.
It’s always vexing to not know something or be proven wrong in a public debate. Using diplomatic sentence phrasing and words can often be a lifesaver and remember to always be mindful of the news you come across.