There is no question that the quality and integrity of the news media was much higher before the rise of social media. The immense popularity of social media has dragged news further and further toward entertainment. In an effort to compete with social media, traditional news outlets have drenched themselves with opinion in a futile effort to hold onto people’s attention, ratings, and advertisers. The craft of reporting the news has been replaced by a new entertainment art that prioritizes opinions and agendas over the facts of the stories being reported.
How will the news media reinvent itself next? Where is the new opportunity? My hope is that a growing percentage of people at both ends of the political spectrum would like to have the news reported to them accurately and without bias or opinion.
The quantity of news coverage is measurably greater than ever before, but the quality of the news being reported has been significantly compromised. This is the question I find myself pondering: Which of the most important stories reported over the past fifty years would not be reported in today’s environment?
The negative impact of social media is only beginning to be discovered, but you can be sure it is more far- reaching than the self-esteem of teenagers. The way it is being used to attack our rule of law and destroy the way news is reported are just two examples. Social media is like a drug that has been on the market for twenty years before they discover it is causing cancer.
I appreciate that some people will argue that social media is responsible for some good in the world. I don’t disagree. But if I murdered people every day and then volunteered at the local soup kitchen serving the homeless on Saturday mornings, at what point would you question my integrity?
Social media has industrialized and commercialized gossip. It is the most effective tool for negativity in the history of the world, profiting every day from the misery of millions. If gossip is dehumanizing, social media is the systematic dehumanization of a whole culture. If we reflect on our discussion about evil and gossip, at some point, all men and women of goodwill have questions to consider. Does social media advance or detract from a person’s ultimate happiness? Is it possible the world would be better off without it?
More concerning than the answers to these questions is our unwillingness to rigorously explore the questions themselves as individuals and as a society. I am not fool enough to think that we can put social media back in Pandora’s box, but exploring these questions can radically alter the role we allow it to play in our lives and in society. But perhaps the reason we refuse to do so is because we are afraid we will discover that the internet is a modern version of Pandora’s box—a gift that at first seems valuable, but in reality is a curse, the source of great and unexpected troubles.
From Life is Messy
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