It’s Thanksgiving time and millions of Americans have travelled to be with loved ones and congregate around dinner tables in large groups.
Who cares we’re in the midst of a worldwide pandemic that’s killed over 270,000 Americans?
And who cares the CDC has warned Americans not to travel or gather in large groups?
But, what can we expect from a country where at least 25 to 40 percent of its adult citizens are utterly resentful of facts and hostile towards scientists and medical experts, yet embrace superstitions and zany, baseless conspiracy theories?
Well, if it’s on the Internet it must be true, right?
Let’s face it, some Americans still think wearing a medical mask equates to yielding to the arch-conspiracy of global tyranny and has little or nothing to do with protecting themselves and others from a very contagious airborne virus.
Not to be outdone, other pandemic “experts” will insist a) COVID death numbers are significantly inflated because hospitals make more money from treating those patients; b) only the elderly die from COVID so people under 80 have nothing to worry about; c) the only way to conquer the pandemic is through herd immunity.
And, of course, if the preferred candidate of those same people (referenced above) doesn’t win his race they insist the election was rigged despite a lack of evidence; And despite the fact that losing candidate’s party performed extremely well in the election overall.
Just certain parts of ballots were fraudulent, right?
Oh, and let’s not forget Pizzagate. There were people who actually believed that Comet Ping Pong, a pizzeria in Washington, D.C., was a meeting ground for Democratic politicians who ran a child sex ring and engaged in Satanic ritual abuse and human trafficking.
Well, if it’s on the Internet it must be true, right?
And people still wonder why America hasn’t been this divided since the Civil War (1861-65)?
How did this happen in a country with the following traits:
- Best colleges and universities
- World leader in medical research
- Largest innovator of new technologies
- Holder of the unofficial world currency (Dollar)
- World’s largest charitable giver
- Pioneers in space exploration, aerospace, and aviation
- Speakers of the world’s preferred language for business (English)
- Winner of the most Olympic medals
- Home to the highest number of billionaires
Answer: America was once a more unified nation that respected its governmental, medical, and scientific institutions, rewarded hard work and innovation, and shunned ignorance, alternative facts, and wacky, baseless conspiracy theories.
But today, a lot of Americans are getting access to all kinds of information and misinformation, and largely believe what they want to.
If the facts don’t fit their narrative, they simply cover their ears, walk away, stop consuming the information, or label the data as “fake.”
Have social media and the Internet created a monster of sorts in American society?
After all, they give a lot of underserving people a platform to spew their nonsensical rhetoric. And many of those folks are of angry, woefully uninformed, downright hateful, or all the above. But, despite their often-groundless claims, they can tap into the biggest fears and insecurities of the most vulnerable in society.
People like Alex Jones and many of the fringe conservative websites and YouTube pages prey on the less educated and underinformed as well as others, whether well-informed or not, who share their angry narrative and aren’t concerned with empirical truth. In the end, they are all very willing candidates for brainwashing.
Every country probably has its share of conspiracy theorists, agitators, and nonconformists who revel in being different, and America is certainly no stranger to them. But never before have they comprised such a considerable portion (estimated 25-40%) of the adult population.
And never before did they have a wide-reaching platform. And never before had their views been considered anything more than fringe, wacky and downright dangerous by a vast majority of Americans.
The content that is portrayed on the Internet, especially social media, often isn’t real and can create false realties that can be extremely damaging. But social media and the Internet are here to stay and it’s critical our First Amendment rights to free speech are not violated.
So, what can be done?
Possible Solution: Encourage and Enforce a Heavy Dose of Fact-Checking in Schools, the Media, and at Every Level of Government
Regardless of one’s political affiliation, fact-checking should be the rule and not the exception these days when consuming or creating content.
As a reader, do your due diligence and verify details, especially if you’re consuming information from a source that isn’t mainstream. And as a publisher, make sure your data is fact-checked and list sources when applicable.
If authentic, non-biased fact-checking resources don’t become an integral part of the Internet and, in general, American society, the country will soon pay a heavy price because far too many Americans are living in a very false reality they can’t escape on their own.
And it’s dangerous.
Social media is wonderful, but its arrival has helped metastasize some serious, long lasting problems in America. And if those issues are not combated soon, the Unites States, like ancient Rome, will implode from within.Tags: U.S. Presidential Race 2020