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Keeping it Real in a World of Fake News

Lately, when I am watching TV or listening to the news, it occurs to me that a lot of the information I am being exposed to is potentially fake. Or, if not completely fake, then at least presented in a way that is biased towards a particular belief or viewpoint in order to appeal to like-minded people to rally viewers, listeners and followers. But it seems to me that there’s an agenda behind this type of information sharing. And it’s not an agenda rooted in truth or honesty, which frankly, is a danger to the peace and unity of our shared world.

I always have to remind myself to question the context when I hear news that seems one-sided or untrue or improbable. What else is going on? What happened before or after the event or picture I am being shown? What are the credentials of the presenter, and why should I believe him or her?

What concerns me is whether other people are actually questioning the things they see and hear. And how many of us run the risk of just swallowing the information as fact without healthy interrogation to make sure the full story is told?

We are living in a time of great division and intolerance. Power seems more than ever to be generated by people and nations “winning” by ensuring that others are “losing”. But why can’t everybody win? Life doesn’t have to be a zero sum game, does it?

In today’s tech-driven world we have unprecedented access to issues, images, clips, factoids, opinions, facts, news (real or fake). We can see a picture that somebody wants us to see, negative or positive, but how do we know if we are getting the whole picture?

What is behind the curtain? We can’t tell what is really happening by looking at one photo or viewing a video clip. We are all susceptible and vulnerable to being swayed by dishonest, misleading, or incomplete snippets.

I always want to ask myself questions about the motives of others, but I never want to become jaded, distrustful, angry, frustrated, fearful, or violent.

Pumped up by all the hype, people can start to believe their neighbour is their enemy simply because they disagree on who has the best team or what politician they voted for.

It’s all pretty confusing and sometimes overwhelming when we are trying to cope with all the differing points of view without the confidence that all the facts are on the table.

So, what do we do? All I know is what works for me. I do my best not to get sucked in and be influenced by all the noise and fanfare and the hype. I tell myself to stay true to the values I believe in, and more importantly, to the universal values of honesty, trust, authenticity, fairness, reasonableness, acceptance and compassion.

I do my utmost best, not always successfully, not to allow myself to get steered away from positive emotions.

I choose to be generous, joyful, thankful, curious, peaceful and loving.

This is just how I try to “Keep it Real”. I’d love to hear about yours.

Doug Dougherty

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