Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Is It Just Me?

Over the years, I've become pretty cynical about what I read, watch, and hear. I do not believe there is such a thing as "unbiased" media. In today's world most media conveys a specific point of view, agenda, or call to action. The same "news" story reported on five different channels will offer five different conclusions. Corporations and governments alike employ a cadre of media specialists to provide "spin," so their point of view is portrayed as fact.

Over the years, I've looked for the "So what?" in what I hear, see, or read -- especially in the media.

I define the "So what?" as an action or attitude that the author wishes me to adopt.

For example, when watching a car commercial, the "So what?" is that I be moved to purchase that vehicle. Those "So whats?" are easy to spot.

When I watch a movie or TV show, the "So what?" may be a little harder to find, but it's still there. For example, any TV show that involves "ordinary" people singing, dancing, or performing has the "So what?" that each of us are talented, capable, and have an opportunity to win millions of dollars.

Ads promoting the lottery offer the "So what?" that you will be a hero to school kids as you spend your money on the lottery, which funds education. Some of these ads leave me feeling as if I am a terrible person who hates kids if I don't plunk down my dollars for them -- at least once in a while.

Now some of you may be saying to yourself, "So what?"

The "So what?" I want you to think about is to become a critical consumer of media. Too often we accept most everything we hear or read without thinking objectively about it. We buy into the mindset that "If it's on the internet, on the national news, or in the newspaper, then it must be true ... at least mostly." This also applies to hearing it from "live" sources as when we wholesale accept something because we heard it from a friend or family member. Suffice it to say, critical thinking should accompany us wherever we go.

As for me, I read the fine print, look for the angles, and will not send money to Africa because someone died and named me in his will.

This whole critical-thinking thing is something worthwhile to pass along to the next generation, too. The world's awash in hyperbole and trivial nonsense, and it's targeted (as it has been for years) at the very young as well. For young and impressionable minds, the world is full of choices like never before. Some are of value; many are not, and it's a huge help if by our input and experience we can help them see the difference.

As any guy knows, one priceless benefit that comes with age is the lesson gained from our hard-won experience. But let's not let these life-changing gems remain with us. Be sure to pass them on when you get a chance, but do so tactfully, in small, steady doses. As we all know, it's good medicine for those who hear it, but for some it may be hard to swallow.

When was the last time you heard something that made you ask, "So what?"?

You can let us know by clicking here.


Unknown said...

Some comments:
1. “So what?” was my favorite question after someone made a statement, especially if sounded generic, not based on their personal experience, or reflected conventional wisdom. Then after a while I became aware that people found it to be offensive and would shut down the conversation. I have not found a succinct alternative, but I am working on it.
2. There is a danger in referring to “the media” as the blog does. If “the media” refers to talk shows (audio or video, especially nationally syndicated ones), social media (sorry about that, even blogs), they should be treated with a resounding “So what?” Even when they present ”both sides of the story”, each side acts as an advocate instead of a ”reporter”.
3. Other “media”, such as newspapers which employ “reporters” and “editors” have been educated and trained to be “Unbiased”. Usually it means they report not their own opinions, but what other people have said or written. The “unbiased” part comes in by them seeking comments from a number of different sources (either identified or anonymous). The reporter believes these people have expertise on the topic are have true information by personal experience. These reports should still be evaluated with a gentle “So what?”
4. I agree there is no “unbiased”, no matter how hard one tries. However, there are facts that are reported, and they can be checked and many can be verified. Often we have neither time nor the resources to verify. Then we can look at “track records”: does the individual or the news outlet have a routine bias toward a specific world view, philosophy or ideology. No matter how convincing the argument is , the question should always be “SO WHAT?”
5. We ourselves as consumers of news, statements, or reasoned opinions should also apply the “So what?” to our own bias. If a set of facts, reports chimes in with our worldview, do we give it a pass from the “So what?” scrutiny? WE should be alert. Unfortunately this even applies to our religious convictions, our faith, our scriptures. I am reminded of that by the Biblical report of Satan tempting Jesus. Satan uses exact scripture passages to suggest Jesus take some ungodly actions. Jesus shows us that we can refute them by staying true to honoring God above all else. Pray we can discern and not fall for those temptations in our lives.
6. Sorry about the length of the comments, but I got on a roll. 7/10/2018

Henderson said...

Appreciate your words, writer, much of what we encounter should be treated with a robust "So what!?" albeit said in a way that doesn't offend or turn somebody off. :)