Social media is fast becoming the go-to for young voters to make political decisions, but does it provide a balanced view?
Skimming through the news sites on the web and the 24-hour news channels on television, I am sometimes amazed at the different opinions expressed over the same event, depending on the ideological viewpoint of the writer or commentator. How people can understand something someone said so differently is mind-boggling, until you realize those reporting the “news” today are pushing an agenda, instead of providing information as in the “old days.”
So, if you get your news information from one publication, or watch only one news channel, the “news” you hear will be tainted towards the beliefs of the presenters, and most publications and tv networks tend to employ those who believe similarly. Sure, some tout having a balanced staff of writers and talking heads, but that premise is swiftly dispensed when you review the actual content.
You can find diverse opinions by frequenting different sources, of course, but that requires and effort on your part, and more and more, we are becoming a society that wants everything delivered to us, almost to the point of before we request it.
We are becoming a society that needs to be spoon-fed, whether it is merchandise or food we order online, or news and political information. Once, we read newspapers every morning or afternoon. The move to television news channels and the internet has almost made printed newspapers obsolete, most surviving as digital versions posted on websites.
But even that isn’t fast enough for the world today. We are moving to social media for news information, choosing to instead of reading insightful, well-researched articles by professional journalists, we rely on snippets, for a lack of a better term, of information, that are drawn from an opinionated stance from one side or the other.
These immediate outbursts of “facts” expressed on the medium are commonly knee-jerk reactions in response to an event, promoting or degrading the “other side” for doing or saying something “our side” disagrees with, and rarely well-informed or thought out.
But what makes social media postings so harmful to reasonable debate, is the fact that most of us follow those with which we already agree, and the only slant we see comes from a one-sided point of view, believe it or not, even more so than cable news.
Less and less, people, particularly the young and mobile generations, are not taking the time to research an alternative opinion in an effort to make up their own mind, but blindly follow the words tweeted or posted by the accounts of a celebrity or nationally known figure they follow. The first thing they see will stick in their minds, whether or not the statement is true, and they won’t listen to anyone who may offer another view.
The social media sites are working to monitor so-called fake news postings, but those are not nearly as influential as real news postings that are based on an ideological slant. But some would say that even the social media sites that are monitoring content are doing so with political leanings.
Social media news isn’t going to become less popular, no matter how biased or slanted it may appear to be. We all want to be reinforced in our own beliefs and will tend to associate ourselves with like-minded individuals.
Millennials will be using social media more and more to determine how, or if, they will vote in upcoming elections. There will be waves of under and misinformed voters taking to the polls, eschewing the responsibility to take the time to hear both sides of an issue.
Russian influence won’t be near the problem social media influence will be in America’s election process.