You and I need an environment of trust and a degree of certainty to live a long, healthy, and happy life.
Imagine what would happen to you emotionally and psychologically if you begin to distrust your spouse, employer, or neighbors. Should that happen, the lack of trust would gradually erode or immediately destroy your emotional wellbeing.
In society at large, lack of trust rips apart the fabric of society. As you know, we live in that very situation.
That begs the question, is it possible to trust or be sure about what is happening in the world today?
Many things have transpired, particularly in recent years, that serve to crack the foundation of our personal and societal confidence. From preachers to politicians, we as a nation put less and less faith in any profession or institution.
We can identify many culprits, but none bear more responsibility than the social and information media.
An Edelman survey reported that “58 percent of Americans think most news organizations are more concerned with supporting an ideology or political position than with informing the public.”
How can we have any confidence we are getting our information about the current world and national events from a trustworthy source?
No single answer to that question can be given. Yet, unless we stop to consider what we are doing, we will probably turn thoughtlessly to news outlets for one of three reasons: First, they happen to be the ones that are most accessible. Without questioning a source, it is easy to believe what we read and see.
Second, they are the ones that support and advocate our position. They provide us with evidence that what we already believe or suspect is, in fact, right. That may or may not be a wise thing.
Third, they are the ones that “Everyone is watching,” or “Everyone is reading.”
Amid our information and entertainment saturated lives, how can we have confidence in what we see and read?
The simplest approach, but most demanding practice, is to read slowly and think deeply.
In an age characterized by a pace of life that ceaselessly challenges us to keep up, at a time in history when anyone standing still is assumed to be dead, the adverbs “slowly” and “deeply” feel like anachronisms.
One of the hundreds of books in my library is entitled Smarter, Faster, Better. Those adverbs capture what is almost universally agreed to be the best way to live and thrive in the modern-day. I agree that becoming smarter, faster, and better is generally desirable, especially in business.
But when we shift our thinking, as we are in this blog, to seeking to discover the truth about what the world is really like, smarter, faster, and better is rarely the most beneficial way to go.
Reading slowing and thinking deeply was the natural way of life for centuries.
In the transition from the industrial age to the information age, the stress it unleashed on people was a massive challenge. Today, taking the most precious of all commodities, our time, and using it to read slowly and think deeply can be similarly stressful.
So how do we downshift to take in more clearly and think more deeply about the information coming at us from every direction? A few suggestions and questions can help. We will begin to explore those in the next blog.
For now, you can begin thinking about understanding information more precisely by considering three questions we will examine next week:
First, is the “news” I am seeing or reading fact or opinion? How do you know the difference?
Second, does the “news” identify the source of the fact or opinion? Is the source named or unnamed?
Third, what words—especially verbs and adverbs—does the reporter or writer use that force a particular interpretation of events on me? Is the language neutral or biased?
Liberal or conservative, you will find what we unveil next time to be helpful to you.
Be wise and courageous,
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