What you perceive on a daily basis builds the foundation for your reality, right?
And those perceptions are pretty important while deciding what your next move is, whether it’s looking left and right and once more left before crossing the street, or choosing between the latest and possibly most hyped movies you wanna see at the theater. Depending on what you see and take away from it, you could get hit by a car or regret spending money on a movie ticket. (Or not.)
But what if some of those perceptions were already rigged to begin with?
For example, ever heard of Luxottica? Neither had I until I saw the 60 Minutes special on this Italian company that makes eye glasses for a lot of big name brands like Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, Versace and the list goes on. The criticism was aimed at their apparent domination over manufacturing and distribution of eye wear world wide, the consumers think they are purchasing something uniquely crafted for them by a high fashion house, when in fact it’s one company lurking behind the veil of different brand names that’s making and even designing the eye glasses for the fashion houses. In short, the main argument presented by 60 Minutes was: So what are you wearing again? Most likely Luxottica. Perceived variety of choices.
It’s not like it’s a secret, but they’re not exactly advertising it either. And that’s how we enter the world of making impressions, effects that are produced on somebody. It’s fair to assume that most people are quite savvy about how different companies persuade the consumer on their side by using advertisements, highlighting various properties of their product to generate a certain perception of it to get people to buy it. Advertising is an easy example as it is pretty much in everybody’s face, and everybody knows what the main goal of companies that produce goods is: to sell.
But what about the other things they want us to buy? Like information.
The media coverage on the case of Edward Snowden is an interesting one. The conversation seems to be about how much damage the American did to the government and whether he is a traitor or not. How many mainstream news outlets are talking about the core issue? The state of the 4th amendment in the US today and how Americans feel about the surveillance programs at work. According to a poll by TIME over half of Americans think Snowden did a good thing by informing his fellow citizens of the surveillance programs, but the conversation seems to be revolving around everything else, such as what his girlfriend posted on YouTube, or whether we should call him a whistleblower at all. Talk about quibbling.
What do you do, when you need issues out of limelight and forgotten, because you can’t change the opinions on them in your favor? You change the conversation. And that’s what’s happening to Snowden here, all the irrelevant sideshows are headlining now, the main show is being left in the dark.
The most important tool for anybody living in a 21st century world with too much information being bumped at them is discernment, the ability to judge well. Going past our initial perceptions of things around us is vital to making wise decisions. A story that appeals to our emotions may sway our opinion one way or another, but when we turn the critical thinking on, does the story make any valid statements, or do they collapse under scrutiny?
While reading a story, one may ask questions such as …What supporting evidence is there to back up the arguments made? Does the story bring up opposing arguments and how does it treat them? How does the story arrange different facts to a logical conclusion, are they facts or are they suppositions, something that has not been verified by data? And that’s just scratching the surface, but the basic idea is to exercise the force of logic before signing yours truly under something that has been treated by a spin doctor. To put it dramatically.
Deciphering what really happened in a world that is powered by impressions, some justified and some less so, can be like a house of mirrors. Depending on where you get your news from, the same story might have a different spin on it determined by the outlet’s bias they’re pushing, whether it’s liberal, conservative or corporate etc… And I’m not saying it’s necessarily a bad thing having different viewpoints (obviously not), but oversimplification of issues leads to unawareness, and unawareness leads to uninformed decisions, which may work only to a small percentage’s favor whether it’s about a policy change or trusting a medicine’s safety.
My question is, what are we so afraid of? Is confronting the core of issues and having genuine conversations about them really that bad? I would like to think that we the public can handle talking about the big boy and big girl issues in a fair way without being given information that is filtered or watered down.
So next time you’re reading about breaking news or watching the events as they fold, ask yourself, what are they serving their Kool-Aid with?