My home isn’t much different than many American homes in the morning. As I pour my morning cup of coffee and get myself ready for the day, in the background is a cable news show. It has been years since I had a newspaper delivered to my door. In today’s virtual world I get my news from any number of news websites. I click a bookmark and I am greeted by a list of headlines. This morning the headlines read, “Afghan’s risk death to vote”, “Obama: Some bear false witness on health care”, and of course “Bikini-clad Britney heats up ‘Letterman’” and “The 12 most annoying types of Facebookers.” And the news shows aren’t much better, “Vote on what you think about Michelle Obama’s shorts,” and “Why are we so angry about heath care?”
What I think many of us fail to realize is that this current world of website headlines, tweeters, and blogs are a far cry from the new reporting of the past. In a world where things happen and are reported on, YouTubed and tweetered on in real-time, is there really anytime to investigate and verify. The result is a world saturated with opinion and less fact based information. This wouldn’t be an issue if we all didn’t take everything we heard for face value. Most major new networks report on the stories reported on other news outlets. CNN might report on a story in the LA Times or a small local news station in Fort Collins Colorado. They are “relaying” information from a secondary source and not doing their own investigation. This takes the responsibility of reporting on truth fact almost completely out of their hands.
As I write this blog I am reminded of what a blog really is, an online journal or commentary on events or personal experiences. According to Princeton WordNet, a blog is a shared on-line journal where people can post diary entries about their personal experiences and hobbies. A blog is not a news site, there is no fact checking necessary or anyone to verify that the information is accurate. It is a place to share thoughts and opinions and this is a great place for them, not the cable news shows or online newspaper sites.
The reason I bring this up is that we need to be smart consumers of information. Before we run off with someone’s opinions on healthcare, the state of our country, the benefit of having counselor’s covered by Medicaid, do some research on your own. Seek out a number of different sources, do some real research, and formulate an opinion based in fact. The reason many of these town hall meetings have become so heated is that an individual heard something that scared them and they took it as fact. We wouldn’t begin to write in research papers something we heard over causal conversation, we wouldn’t begin to use counseling techniques we read about in US weekly, so why are we so willing to accept anything we hear on TV or read about online as fact? We are smarter than that.
Jessica Diaz is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, a third-year doctoral student, and was a student representative on ACA’s Governing Council.