I wish it wasn’t so, but things happen because of who you know nowadays. I think it probably has always been like this but there was a time in my teens and early twenties when I thought that things would happen because you merited them. If you worked hard, people would notice that and you would get the promotion or pay rise because your work merited that. If you made a special effort to go beyond what was normally expected then it would be recognised and rewarded. Unfortunately life isn’t like that; people who make a fuss get seen first, pointing out your successes or even highlighting your learning opportunities (i.e. not successes) means you will get more opportunities, making sure everybody knows your name means you will be chosen more often. The world rewards extroverts.
Isn’t that a rather cynical indictment of the state of the world? Perhaps, but it seems to be true in the wider sense at least, the wider sense being national and international phenomenon. Nigel Farage can state that £350 million a day is wasted being a member of the EU which would be spent on the NHS if Brexit is achieved, and the day after the votes are in and Brexit is indeed obtained say that those figures were a mistake. Donald Trump can state that mass detentions and deportations of minority groups are what are needed to make America safe again ignoring the fact that most killings on USA soil are done by American citizens; or revisiting the inhuman treatment that Americans of Japanese descent were treated during World War II; or even seeing the similarity to how the Nazi’s treated minority groups before killing them. Celebrities can advocate virginal steaming as healthy even when all medical opinion would say exactly the opposite. Experts can be ridiculed, see Gove during Brexit debates, or climate scientists on global warming denied their opinion because it doesn’t suit somebodies’ narrative, and these views are seen as sensible positions. People have influence because they get in the media, influence based on rhetoric rather than logical well-constructed argument. Those that shout loudest get heard, and get believed.
One might question whether there is any point even listening to the media nowadays. What is the point if I can’t believe what anybody says anymore?
Well for one, there are people out there that say reasonable things: look up George Takei’s video to Spanish speakers revisiting the internment of Japanese descended Americans; the difficulties of choosing between mass deportations or pro-abortion politics see Bearing Blog ; Dr Jen Hunter’s blog on steaming vaginas; or even the BBC news website on the Brexit debate. There is good reasoned information out there but you have to go looking for it.
Secondly, ignoring what is said in the media means that you are burying you head in the sand and not engaging in debate. I understand. I personally think that Donald Trump behaves like a child seeking attention, a child that says anything to get noticed because they are insecurely attached and feel unimportant if nobody is looking at them. My natural behaviour is to ignore children like this, because that was how I was treated and so how I learned to stand on my own two feet (so the narrative goes – I don’t actually think this is a good way of dealing with insecure kids by the way). As a consequence I switched off anytime Trump was mentioned in the News, believing that the idiot didn’t deserve my attention. This was a mistake. Trump represents a facet of society that believes shouting out your unreasoned opinion that others are thinking means you are speaking the truth. To not listen to his rhetoric allows those opinions to go unchallenged and if repeated enough, unchallenged opinions start to be believed and dogma can set in.
How do you know who to believe though? Well I hope you understand that I believe opinions need to be reasoned and logically constructed, but I have said here before that any opinion you may have is valid because it will be formed from you own life experience which is in itself a unique view of the world. Where I would urge caution though is when you or anybody else sees something very clearly in black and white terms. Now this of course is my opinion, but nothing I maintain nothing, is black and white. There is literally no such thing as everyone being a black person or a white person, there is a whole spectrum in between these theoretical limits (not that black or white really describes the colour of people’s skins accurately anyway). A lot of people will argue that abortion is a black and white issue, some will see it as murder, and others will see it as a right to control one’s own body. Where does a pregnancy caused by rape fit into either camp? When does a group of cells become sentient life? I am not debating this issue here; I am raising the argument against the principal of true or false thinking.
At the end of the day, it is up to us to decide whether we allow others’ opinions to influence us. I think we are ethically bound to question everything we are told as truth because only through discussion and reasoning will we gain a better understanding of the issue, and understanding the issue is important if we are to make an informed choice. I say listen to the rhetoric but please put the effort in to understand the underlying foundation of the argument, and put the effort into finding opposing views, and applicable historical experiences and in doing so you, and I will hopefully make better decisions.
Sometimes though, maybe even often, we don’t have the time or the luxury to consider opposing viewpoints. I also understand this. Life is about making decisions and living with the consequences; do the best you can. Good luck.