In today’s world everything is a test. The radars are spinning. The antennae are up and their sensitivity levels have been cranked up 100X the normal levels. What you say or don’t say matters more than ever. What you think about issues most people would have been ignorant of 10 years ago mean everything. You must have a view on everything that is important to whoever it is we are trying to please and your view must fall in line with consensus or else face the wrath of the conservative or liberal elites.
There is a constant need to do two things that rarely turn out well in this order: react and be critical of everything.
I wonder if part of this has been bred into our culture by technology and the news cycle. Things used to have to wait to make the next day’s paper. Then they had to wait to make the evening news. This was back when there was at least some attempt at being objective and that was partly because you had time to consider these things longer before it hit the air or the paper. Then the 24 hour news cycle hit where things happened and were responded to in real time.
What has amplified this already running trend is social media. Social media has created an egalitarian platform for voicing opinions, which is a good thing. Social media and the internet is the frontier of our day and manifest destiny has taken hold of the West in a new form. Social media gives anyone who wants one a platform for 24 hour editorial and reaction.
What has resulted on the negative end is a reactionary, critical culture where often less time is given to gathering and assessing the facts (because you have to jump out there quick because you aren’t waiting to print it for tomorrow!) and more effort is given to filling the airwaves with fact-less reactions that often demonstrate more of our own biases and filters than demonstrate an accurate or fair assessment of things.
There are three things we need to consider:
1 – You don’t have to have an opinion on everything, much less voice your opinion on everything. I am learning to say less, react less, and think, pray and empathize more.
2 – Choose good, reliable and diverse sources that typically offer a fair assessment of things to feed your mind and inform your opinions.
3 – If you are going to express your thoughts, be a good source yourself. Don’t put out anything you think would be disingenuous coming from someone else. Don’t spread rumors or false information.
It is hard to find grace and peace in a world of reactivity and criticism. We can do better than that.