We seem to think we’ve overcome judgement based on differences, but many of us are oblivious to the huge impact social media has on our perception of the world and its people. Read on to find out why getting your news from Facebook isn’t increasing your knowledge, but making you more ignorant.
Throughout history, languages were like borders. For societies, these kind of borders were more difficult to overcome than geographical borders. Rivers could be crossed and mountains hiked, but languages were a problem. It wasn’t just a communications problem, but rather, that the person who spoke a different language was viewed as a stranger, and the word “stranger” is associated, even today, in nearly every culture as a negative thing.
This is why in the ancient Egyptian era, Greek merchants used a double identity. They had two names (a Greek one and an Egyptian one). When the Romans came, they solved the problem by introducing the conquered societies to Latin, a ‘universal’ language that even survived the dark medieval times (at least in written form).
Today we are living in an Anglophone world that is becoming more and more uniform. In nearly every city you find the same stores and the same food, and if there’s something that you don’t understand, you can just google it. Different languages no longer pose much of a significant problem,
But even though the diversity of culture seems to be decreasing, and the ‘language border’ being overcome, there are new borders being created, because there is now a different way to interpret life, and that is largely through the medium of social media.
Social media only shows you a preselection of things
You might say that there have always been different interpretations of religious and political topics. You are right about that. But today every single statement from any topic can lead to a, what’s best defined as, ‘a shit-storm’. What’s happened is that even though we learned to overcome language barriers, we forgot to listen to people clearly, without any prejudice or bias that would affect how we perceive and interpret their words and actions.
Good judgement often vanishes in favor of social media posts that you either follow or post yourself. More and more people nowadays only get news via social media. This is an interesting topic since social media only shows you a preselection of things.
On a daily basis, two different users receive news about the same topic in entirely different versions, which often lead to completely different conclusions. For example, if your profile shows that you are interested in hunting, you might get proposed an article on social media that shows a successful hunt of that day, whereas another user who supports Greenpeace will get the same topic, which is written completely differently. Hunting is just one example of the many topics that can be morphed to fit political agendas, and that pop up on your news feed based on your interests and activities on social media. In this sense, almost all the news we receive is biased and molded to fit our own views and interests.
Social media users are using the same social media platforms to receive news, and a very low percentage are receiving a neutral professional article, not just because of the ‘preselection’, but also because good journalists are getting rare, or don’t have time for proper research anymore. In a time when bias in journalism and media is evident, it’s no surprise that many journalists abandon doing proper research and instead retort to making misleading and often false statements to get the public’s attention.
Language borders were in many cases correspondent with physical borders (Rivers, Mountains, etc.) The reality borders of today are not geographical any more. It’s like the cold war but instead of only two powers we have as many as there are users on social media.There’s no real way to distinguish between the different ‘languages’ anymore, because there’s so many.
The best example of alternative realities is North Korea. It broadcasted, for example, an alternative version to the Football world mastership and in it, North Korea won. It is not always as easy to find the truth like with the North Korean example, especially when it’s disguised so well.
It is up to us to overcome the social media news era. Because do you really want to be influenced by what you see on your Facebook feed rather than having a healthy judgement on the things that are happening in the world? And to be able to do this without ‘shitstorming’ someone just because you don’t like his/her point of view?It’s time to really read the small letters of Netiquette before using social media. It’s your own responsibility to not be fooled by what the media tries to feed you, so don’t fall prey to the articles that ‘randomly’ pop up on your feed, and keep an open-mind to the harsh realities of bias in the news media field.