I thought I’d put my thoughts down in a blog post. That way anyone who is tired of post-election bluster posts has the option to bypass this and peruse kitty or baby pictures instead.
So here we are 9 days after the most shocking election to date. Or at least in my lifetime; (in 1948 no one thought Truman would earn a second term and despite the efforts of newspapers claiming a Dewey win, Truman defeated Dewey).
Media involvement/influence during or after an election is nothing new.
In the 1800s antebellum newspapers were often explicitly affiliated with a political party, aimed on delivering that party’s agenda. In return, the political parties subsidized their newspapers, and those subsidies were important to the business model of newspaper publishing. For instance, the Washington Globe was a political paper affiliated with Andrew Jackson’s administration. Because political newspapers were generally operated by people close to the political leaders they covered, they could be both valuable and unreliable sources of information.
So why are we surprised by the behavior of our major media outlets? Biased views and opinions have been expressed for more than 200 years via the media.
We are human; we have the tendency to absorb information that supports what we already think. This is called Confirmation Bias. Further, as much journalistic integrity we wish some professionals would possess, we’d be asking them to betray their fundamental cognitive orientation of life- a.k.a- their worldview.
Let’s examine the importance of a person’s worldview for a second.
Your worldview is how you perceive the world we live in. The thoughts and feelings you have about life. Your beliefs, your desires, your fears, your sense of purpose can all be components of your worldview.
Your worldview can also be what grounds you; what makes you feel safe and in control. You worldview gives you a strong sense of self so you can go about your day feeling confident and empowered.
When Trump reached 270 electoral votes, those who were aligned with his worldview felt empowered and in control. Trump voters’ worldview was validated and supported by their choice.
Conversely, when Clinton lost the electoral vote, those who were aligned with her worldview felt vulnerable, unsafe, and out of control.
This is why this election in particular had a massive impact on everyone. The candidates’ worldviews were so vastly different it rocked each of us at our very core.
Despite Trump and Clinton’s personalities and what decisions they made in the past (questionable e-mails, connections with Russia, etc.)—the bigger question(s) was what will they do now and in the future?
Unfortunately both campaigns focused on attacking each other’s character and dredging up past misdoings, Americans were rarely exposed to reliable information with regards to their actual plans (unless it was researched, extensively).
That circles us back to how the media was involved, or rather, how much biased and false information we are exposed to has grown.
66% of Facebook users get their news from Facebook feeds.
47% of the information on the Internet is false.
(Forbes, 2003. Read: 13 years ago. This percentage is likely higher.)
98% of Americans distrust the information they find on the Internet.
So here we have more than 151 million American Facebook users getting their news from 47% of unreliable sources and 98% not believing what they read on the Internet anyway.
There were 126 million voters in this election. This begs the question how many voters were getting real, factual information to make a sound decision.
I’m not going to blame any person or party, or media outlet, or social media platform for the result of this election. I don’t want to get into any heated debates.
What I do want to point out is that we need to be more responsible with what we read and what we share on the Internet.
My favorite news piece from the election was InfoWars’ claim that Clinton is connected to an alleged satanic ritual called Spirit Cooking.
Yes, people. Hillary spends her time gathering pig’s blood to paint with. Probably one of those wine and canvas parties with her girlfriends. That makes total sense.
According to Business Insider, the most trusted news sources both liberals and conservatives in America can agree on are:
The BBC (British)
The Guardian (British)
The Economist (British)
The Wall Street Journal (American)
Google News (American)
*note this is a computer-generated news site that aggregates headlines from news sources worldwide, groups similar stories together and displays them according to each reader’s personalized interests- so it can be biased based on your customization.
If we can’t rely on our news sources, it is up to us to evolve our human brain to employ logic and empathy simultaneously when absorbing information. By working both parts of the brain, our decisions and ideas can be both idealistic and pragmatic (= win-win). And if we can’t transcend or change our neural pathways, at least we can be more cognizant of truth vs. untruths on the Internet and how our brain processes them and how we behave.