As difficult as it is to believe, it’s election season. It’s that wonderful time every couple of years when citizens are bombarded with campaign messages from the media, outdoor, online and virtually every imaginable source, all in an effort to get candidate’s names and faces in front of voters. Between messaging from national and local campaigns, debates and commentary, it’s no wonder election burn-out is a real thing. We all breathe a sigh of relief after the election when the signs come down and there’s some sense of normalcy.
Campaigns are very different, both locally and nationally, than they were a few years ago. Before technology was utilized the way it is today, voters could actually trust what they were seeing and hearing. It was a time when there was some civility between opponents and, if there was not always mutual respect, at least courtesy was more common.
But, times have changed. Much of the distrust and confusion can be attributed to the age of technology and the way information is disbursed and consumed today. “Fake News” has become a cry over nearly every story you read online or see in video and, unfortunately it’s a legitimate, growing issue. The moment large news agencies began using unverified sources in order to be first on a story, trust in the articles we read and the news we watch began to fade.
Going even further than lazy, quick-news reporting, with the growth of social media, blogs and online talk spaces, anyone can now have a voice and be heard. That sort of power is often taken much too lightly when bloggers and influencers repeat fake information or repost headlines without context. When even journalists, who have a responsibility to report facts, won’t take the time to report good information, how can we expect every-day bloggers to be accurate in their platforms?
Finally, technology has brought about the death nell of good, solid reporting of information with the advent of facial recognition technology that allows video to be manipulated so flawlessly that even experts have a hard time distinguishing real from fake. While we certainly need information to make informed decisions on who we elect, how can we trust anything we read, see or hear?
Today we see independent fact-checking agencies pop up left and right in effort to combat the tide of fake news. Next we’ll see more fact-checkers, to double check the first round of fact-checkers. My point is, there’s no end to this issue of fake news, no way to fully trust the information we see or hear today.
Call to Action: The solution lies within the individual. We must no longer be uneducated, gullible sheep that are simply fed by a media which is clearly biased and presenting false information as fact. Our responsibility is to elect leaders we feel will closely follow our values to guide our state and nation. To that end we absolutely must invest time and effort to look at issues for ourselves and get to know candidates personally. Each of us should be attending debates and town hall meetings. We should know the people that represent us and what they stand for and we should support those we want to see in office, both with our time and money. It’s time we all invested a little in obtaining our own information and stop following every false fact we hear. Remember, when you blindly follow the masses, sometimes the “m” is silent.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”