At a time where every TV channel, news website, and newspaper has a political agenda, can we expect anyone to tell the truth? Even social media are plagued with bias, so what can we ask of mainstream news outlets?
Worse yet, many people who are aware that mainstream outlets tilt the news to fit their political agenda turn toward alternative news sources such as personal blogs and Twitter accounts, and other less familiar social media sites. These sources often publish unchecked information. As a result, rumors and misinformation abound throughout the World Wide Web. So what can one who wants to know the truth about something important do? In truth, not much. As far as the media goes, it is already an all-out war and you simply cannot know what is really happening. The only thing we can be sure of is that fake news is no longer an exception.
We cannot blame the media for warping stories. In doing so, they only service their customers, most of whom do not want the truth, but news that caters to their existing views. Most people only want to reinforce what they already believe about the other side. Therefore, the only way to change the media is to change our attitude toward all parts of society. If we become inclusive, so will the media. If we remain belligerent, the media will keep catering to our attitude. After all, their survival depends on their popularity.
If we are looking for solace in this dismal state, it is that every correction begins with finding the problem. A few years ago, no one even thought that fake news existed, much less considered that it might plague major news outlets. Now that we know it is happening, now that we know we should relate to every news item with a grain of salt, we can begin to look for corrections. Just as in medicine, the first step toward healing is the diagnosis.
However, there is a serious hindrance in our quest for the truth: the absence of an alternative. By alternative, I am not referring to alternative news outlets; those are in abundance. By “alternative,” I am referring to an alternative attitude. People will recognize that fake news is rampant only when they recognize that their attitude toward others is harmful to their own interest. When they begin to seek ways to bridge the hatred that’s plaguing society, they will find that the media is feeding the hatred, and they will force it to balance its reporting.
In other words, to change the media, we first have to change our own attitude toward others. In consequence, the media will air content that suits our aspiration and will stop vilifying people with other agendas.
There is a good reason why we should change our attitude: There is no one sidedness in reality. Everything has its opposite, without which it could not exist. There wouldn’t be day if there were no night; there wouldn’t be warm if there were no cold; there wouldn’t be love if there were no hate; there wouldn’t be Democrats if there were no Republicans; and there wouldn’t be liberals if there were no conservatives. The existence of one without the other is about as possible as the existence of only one side of a coin. Can you imagine a dime with only the heads and not the tails?
Just as in nature, opposites in human society do not contradict, but complement each other in a dynamic balance. If we could see that our own existence as humans, the definition of who we are as individuals, our values, beliefs, and ethics depend on, and are often defined by those with whom we disagree, perhaps we would be more respectful to each other.
If we really think about it, if we observe both nature and human society throughout history, we will find that they’ve always moved from left to right, from sunset to sunrise, with ebbs and flows, ins and outs, ups and downs, and from hot to cold. These interchanging states have gotten us where we are, made us who we are, and are as eternal as reality itself. They are, in fact, reality.
Just as we embrace and love all parts of nature, the hunters and the hunted, the spring and the fall, so we should treat one another. If intense hatred is revealed, it is a sign that equally intense love will follow. Instead of fearing it, we should embrace the process and help it manifest by hastening the emergence of the love following the hatred. This diversity of states, this dynamic balance is the only true news, and every news source that tells you otherwise, that tries to convince you that only you are right or only you are wrong, is fake news.