I know from my personal perspective I probably read more now that I did before the internet. But is the quality of what I read any better, probably not.
I don't want this commentary to become an argument over politics, but the current political campaigns are good example of how the internet "news" has become as much noise as it news. It has created a new sense of reality.
The name calling and childish behavior by supporters of both candidates is amazing. It does not matter which candidate you say you support, someone will call you a childish name for supporting them. "Why are all the (insert name of the candidate you hate here) supporters so (insert negative attribute of person here)."
I dislike the mainstream news articles that allow comments. Every news event becomes a political debate. It always seems to turn into a matter of how the victim could be so stupid, they must be a (member of whatever political party you hate).
The above three paragraphs were the introduction to my answer on an online forum of the question, "What effect has the internet had on what it means to be an informed citizen?" I concluded the answer with my analogy of the internet as a mirror.
The internet is a collection of wires, silicon, and copper, it has no soul, it has no mind of its own. The internet doesn't take sides, it gives birth to both good and evil. The internet is our collective mind, it is our collective soul. The internet is just a mirror, a reflection of the people who use it, and together we have the responsibility to focus and form that reflection.
If you don't like what you see when you look into a mirror, what do you do? Some people break the mirror, others change what's being reflected.
The politics and religion hate-fest
As I read through the news articles and look over the comments, every set of comments turns into a hate-fest over politics and religion. At times the people making the comments aren't even sure themselves what side of the argument they are supposed to bet on. One commenter goes off on a tangent, and another commenter reacts to comments by accusing the person of being an angry Republican. A few comments later, another person says that the angry person must be a liberal, since they all go off on tangents like that.
I'm not sure if it the political battles going on this year, or the internet is just going through a phase, but tolerance for other people's opinions doesn't seem to exist right now. I have always been fascinated by different philosophies, and have made friends with people of various faiths and beliefs. I see many free thought forums, where "free thought" basically means, if you don't believe in our views you must be an idiot.
It also appears that most political debates come down to, if you support the opposition, you must be a moron. I see people who I respect in the business world making unbelievable comments about people who do not agree with their views. Seriously, what ever happened to live and let live?
I wonder whatever happened to tolerance, and the concept of believe in what you want, and as long as it doesn't hurt someone else, why should anyone judge you. There are many people who say they believe in that philosophy, but degrade everyone with a belief other than theirs.
"For What It's Worth"
The world today reminds of a verse from the popular 1960s song, "For What It's Worth," written by Stephen Stills for the group Buffalo Springfield.
There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
Words to live by, "Nobody's right if everybody's wrong." It's funny how the origin of the song "For What It's Worth" is misunderstood. The mythology behind the song fits right in with my rant that we have access to a lot more information, but we actually have less understanding.
Do you realize that "For What It's Worth" was NOT written as an anti-war protest song?
Many people think the song "For What It's Worth" was written as a Vietnam War protest song. Nope. It was written about the Sunset Strip curfew riots, also known as the hippie riots, in California in the late 1960s. The "Young people speaking their minds" were young rock and roll fans protesting curfew and loitering laws along with the closing of Pandora's Box, a rock and roll nightclub on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California.
I promise to get in your face
I've been on my rants before in this blog about stereotypes and labels. Such as my post asking why can't we eliminate names of politicians and political parties from headlines
I am proud to be a cranky cynic. I think for myself. I research all those silly internet memes and see how statements and statistics are taken out of context. That's why I ask people to please think, if only our problems were as simple as the Facebook memes tell us.
The world has access to much more information that previous generations. Sadly, we appear to understand less. Perhaps my own experiences taught me that tolerance, as well as hate, is something that we learn over time.
The internet is a mirror of the world that forms a reflection, and being an informed citizen includes the responsibility to focus and form that reflection in a positive manner. I promise to get in your face to remind you of that! And I don't care if you are conservative or liberal!