Big Media and Critical Thought

“The devil gave humans critical thinking, which God didn’t want us to have.”

– Unknown

Big media has ruined critical thought both intentionally and unintentionally. The notion that the internet is truly open is misguided in practice. Firstly, one chooses what to see. Subreddits and Youtube channels are subscribed to, Facebook pages are liked, friend requests are approved, and who you follow on Twitter are all selected. You get to choose your own environment. This is obviously not an issue on its own. However, one still only gets views that one approves of. This is highly dangerous as one view is usually stated over and over, even if this view can easily be proven factually incorrect. It also labels enemies quite easily. If someone if your group posts something that is not approved of by that group, it is fiercely attacked, even if it shows factual basis. People are more likely to respond harshly online as opposed to in-person. This creates a dangerous atmosphere where people might be afraid to post due to fear of backlash. It is also extremely easy to unfollow / unfriend someone, making it easy to simply hide different points of view or posts rather than confront them.

This issue goes farther when sites are catered to one’s preferences, or just outright censors. In 2011, Facebook implemented an algorithm to tailor user’s main pages based on the links that they clicked. This means that content that did not “interest you” (i.e. you didn’t click the links) would be filtered out. Not only can one tailor social media themselves, the companies can do it for you. One now only has a guaranteed singular perspective. There have been reports of Twitter and Facebook silently censoring views or posts that they do not agree with. It is of course up to the company to decide what is acceptable or not, but they primarily censor conservative views, or any hashtags or posts critical of feminism. This brings the ability to hide views up to the highest level. Now even if people want to see opposing views, they do not have the ability to do so.

This leaves us with an illusion that the internet is truly a free flowing area of information. The main point to take away from this, are the effects in real life. If one spends all of their time on Facebook, they are glued to the views that they hold. When someone comes and challenges that view in person, the view is held on to. You have seen many posts and articles about it, it must be true! Even when presented with factual evidence, the articles have trained you to disregard it, because what you have seen can not possibly be wrong, everyone has said it! It does not help when these views are also parroted by mainstream media, and sites such as Buzzfeed. Big media also prevents considering other points of view by using the usual buzzwords. A great example is the phenomenon known as “gamedropping”, where in a completely irrelevant article, Gamergate is mentioned for no reason. This also frequently occurs in any mention of MRAs (men’s rights activists), whom the media frequently paints as “misogynistic manbabies”, while associating them with shooter Elliot Rodger (who was never even related to MRAs in the first place. Nor is it right to blame the actions of one on a few, unless we already hate that group). Big media truly controls what we see, whether we like to or not. It is extremely dangerous, and has been the root of the formation of ideologies such as feminism and the #NeverTrump movement.

Political Tribalism and Identity Politics

There were people attending the Republican convention in blue jeans. Some asked if they were lost and if they needed directions to the Democratic convention.

– Newt Gingrich

    One of the many divisive aspects in politics has been the two party system. Especially in the modern age, everyone is all too eager to label their ideological opponents. This is clear despite the recent surge of people calling themselves independents. These labels have become increasingly hostile over the years, almost to the point of them being slurs in some areas. It’s clear that something is at play when Caitlyn Jenner says she gets more hate for being a Republican than for being transgender.

    The reason why Trump is attractive to many people is that he appeals to moderates that have been pushed out of the left by this increasing hostility. For example, I disagree with tight gun control. I’m not a second amendment freak, or think we should arm nine year olds. I just think that it would be ineffective. If people want drugs, they will get drugs. If people want guns, they will get guns. But then the leftist media will spam you with that story of that gun activist who was shot by her 4 year old son. Because it’s not like accidents happen or one person disregarded gun safety, it’s those evil guns and those idiot gun owners!

    You can’t criticize policies for policies’ sake anymore. You can’t argue against an idea because you think it’s wrong. You can’t take a slice of cake without having to eat the whole thing. There must be some ulterior motive. When I argued against the idea there is a wage gap or a rape culture on campus, I was asked by my resident heads if I was part of any conservative groups on campus. When Milo Yiannopoulos and Caitlyn Jenner are against gay marriage, there must be something really wrong. When latinos are against illegal immigration, they must be secretly racist.

    Identity politics have indeed divided more than it has brought us together. Viewing people as labels has made it easier than ever before to dismiss arguments without making any points. Admittedly, this also happens with the GOP who say Trump is not a “real conservative”, whatever that means. (But stereotyping and profiling people is wrong. We shouldn’t judge people based on their identity, unless we think their identity is wrong!) When this is combined with the idea that when you say you support a candidate, you support them 110% on everything, it only leads to mass anti-intellectualism. Especially with the current 2016 election, it is all too simple to label all supporters as the most extreme, distorted version of what they stand for. Trump supporters are all Nazis! Look at this picture of a Trump supporter doing a Nazi salute with no context (see side note)!! Honestly, it is only 5 or 6 words: “I support X as president”. You don’t know why they are supporting a candidate or if they even agree with them completely. Because there can’t be different reasons for liking a candidate. We must all be divided into individual camps that are clearly incompatible with each other.
Side note: The picture of the old white lady doing the Nazi salute at the Chicago Trump rally has been described by various sources as: an evil Trump supporter, a Hillary Clinton supporter doing it as a false flag, and a Trump supporter doing it ironically to piss off the protestors. Nuance is dead. But the good thing is it still represents all that is wrong with the Trump movement, right?

The Media is Sometimes Right (When They Agree With Me)

 In fact, however, the supporters of the welfare state are utterly anti-social and intolerant zealots. For their ideology tacitly implies that the government will exactly execute what they themselves deem right and beneficial. They entirely disregard the possibility that there could arise disagreement with regard to the question of what is right and expedient and what is not. 

– Ludwig von Mises

    Trump and Sanders are often two sides of the same coin. One labelled “fascist” and the other labelled “progressive”. This is not about their views, but mainly about their treatment by the media, and the public’s reaction to such claims. When the Washington post posted 16 anti-Sanders articles in under 16 hours, it demonstrates a very clear media bias. When anti-Trump article after anti-Trump article is posted, it’s certainly fine because clearly any sane individual would be against Trump (except for losers like Caitlyn Jenner).

    When Trump and his supporters get shut down, beat up, and silenced for supposed racism, this is an amazing act of progressive bravery. When Sanders was shut down by BlackLivesMatter for supposed racism, this was the clear result of overly entitled idealogues. When Trump is considered fascist for retweeting a Mussolini quote (because the first thing we do in school is memorize a list of Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini quotes so we can avoid saying them. Also, authoritarian / fascist / nazi / communist leaders have to be great leaders. Otherwise, they would be shot) this is great evidence to not support Trump. When Sanders is implicated for sexism for defending himself against interruptions by Clinton, this only serves as a ridiculous, horribly incorrect outlook.

    When people call Sanders a socialist or a communist bent on infiltrating and destroying the country, this is just a dumb, extremist outlook on him. Nevermind that he is surely supported by some hardcore socialists. But when Trump is called a white supremacist, this is obviously a clear assessment of the facts. After all, he is supported by the Ku Klux Klan! Nevermind that the KKK has been irrelevant for years.

    One of the things that has really removed me from the left is this sort of minority fetishism. No woman, person of color, or hispanic can do any wrong. When a woman makes a false rape claim, it’s alright! She was just starting a conversation and probably ruined someone else’s life! But with Trump specifically, he is sometimes only labelled a racist because the media says so. His famous quote on immigrants uses the word some. Not all, not most, some. Yes, some illegal immigrants do bring crime, drugs, gun, and are rapists. Some. Yes, some immigrants use the system for their personal advantage, learn English, and send their kids to college. Why is it so xenophobic or racist to tell the truth? Some people abuse the system, some people use the system to their advantage. Why can’t we fix the system to keep the bad guys out and the hard workers in? I don’t think the wall is the best solution, but it sure is better than anyone else’s. Trump is not completely against immigration. He wants to reform the system to cut down on illegal immigration.