The last 20 years has seen a revolution from the press. Not only from the traditional press, but from the blogger who sits in the coffee shop, the women who is in a war zone, the concerned mother who wants her voice heard for the sake of her children. Our news is coming at us in all direction. Never has so much content been created.
14 years ago, in 2003, Google CEO Eric Schmidt announced that every 2 days of content created and uploaded onto the web is greater than all content that was created prior, throughout history. We can only imagine that today, this feat can be achieved in hours, if not minutes.
With so many news options it can be very confusing to navigate, so those who organize our information on the web has made it easier for us. For instance, Yahoo news learns what your behaviors and interests are as you browse and click. As time passes, they get to know what news stories to place on your home page. This is very important for the business side of yahoo because they earn revenue through ad clicks. To ensure the maximum number of clicks from each user, they need to curate the content to fit each users specific interests.
Even when we go off line, we cannot escape this phenomena of becoming exposed to the news which we are only interested. Want to watch MSNBC, Fox, CNN? Just go to their website, click on video and watch your favorite news personalities. And who do we chose to watch? The ones who we agree with most. What Yahoo does to its users, we do to ourselves as well.
An information divide:
Throughout the last 20 years, millions of people are becoming more informed, read more than they did prior, know what is going on throughout the world in real time. It amazes me that the whole world knew of Nelson Mendela’s death before his body was even cold. I know a bit morbid, but true.
Despite the fact that we are more informed as consumers of news, we are only consuming news from those who have specific political leanings; the political leanings most similar to our own.
Online discussions of late have becoming super charged with anger and resentment. We have opposing views from people who are also very well informed. We question how the opposing side could ever come to the conclusion they have come to when they are so informed. The answer is simple, for the last 20 years, we all have been listening, watching and reading sources which we already agree with.
As informed people who take so much time, energy, and pride to be informed in both domestic and global affairs, its time for some introspection. We need to ask ourselves if we are the product of google analytics. Are we choosing our content based on what we already believe or are we choosing our content to challenge our beliefs?
Those who live in liberal democracies who have a free press, have a responsibly to keep the press accountable for their content. A responsibility to not click on the sensational news meant to drive clicks and revenue. A responsibility to call out our preferred news outlet for sensationalism, half truths and ‘fake news’. We all have a responsibility to be free and independent thinkers and not simply “consumers”.
If continuing down this path where people are only reading and discussing issues based on prior believes, the people will continue to become more and more divided. Driven with frustration as to how the opposing sides has come to the conclusions they have.
It’s time to be honest and look at our own choices of press, and open up to those whom you would seem to oppose.