Just see these superfluous ones! Sick are they always; they vomit their bile and call it a newspaper. (Friedrich Nietzsche)
The mainstream media has three objectives: money, power, and propaganda. Truth might coincide with these objectives, but that’s more luck than imperative.
Although nobody really trusts the media, people still consume it—reading articles, watching the news, and checking their Facebook feeds. We need to be informed, don’t we?
When a piece of new information disagrees with our point of view, it reinforces our belief that the media is corrupt. When a piece of new information agrees with what we had already found to be true, we share it on social media.
Going through personal hardships augments this behavior. The media stirs up anxieties and provides reasons for outrage. Outrage trumps anxiety, so trust in the media becomes, ironically, the antidote to its poison.
Views on foreign policy, feminism, even popular science are little more than bread and circuses for the masses. Facts are playthings for the serious ones. To escape reason, they trust in the news and deem their emotion reasonable.
But today we have the alternative media, so everything’s alright, right?
Far from it. Why should alternative media outlets take an interest in “the truth” (whatever that may be)?
In the world of online media, there exists but one God:—traffic. What creates traffic? Clicks. And what makes people click? Entertainment and controversy. That’s what every blogger, Tweeter, and YouTuber aims at. Again, the truth might coincide with these objectives, but that’s more luck than imperative.
To become trustworthy, it should take an alternative media outlet more than not receiving checks from the government, large corporations, banks, or big pharma. People are free to talk as they please online, and the more fun and outrage they produce, the more traffic (= money and influence) they get.
News story or documentary? Remember, words are never pure respresentations of reality, a picture lies more than a thousand words, and a video has at least 24 pictures per second for its neatly selected and edited distortion of the available facts, which, again, are based on misleading words or manipulative statistics.
Of course, this is a problem less of the media and more of our human nature. We lie when we feel like lying, especially when it doesn’t feel like lying (i.e., when we don’t know the truth or when unconscious processes take care of a cognitive dissonance). We trust whom we feel like trusting, especially when we feel like trusting (i.e., when we are more emotionally susceptible). And we support those news factories that give us the emotions and emotional reinforcements we need. Our neediness drives us into consumerism.
Why am I bringing this forth? Because people still believe in enlightenment. The red pill is a good example of this: by virtue of being right on so many issues, it creates trust, heats up our minds, and makes us consume less critically. The same is true for well-presented conspiracy theories and any “trustworthy” news media.
When we listen to the media, whichever it is (this blog included), we seek not truth, but emotional comfort; and when we trust the media, we outsource both our thinking and our experiencing.
Good trust is tribal: trust in close friends and family, trust in what happens around you, trust in what you see with your own eyes (this does not include videos).
Good trust is rational: trust in the laws of nature, trust in the nature of human beings.
Good trust is personal: trust in yourself, trust in your instincts, trust in your capabilities, trust in your True Will.
Conversely, bad trust is estranged, emotional, abstract, and global. Bad trust is the only trust relation we can have with the news media. Bad trust builds on the belief that a journalist could theoretically have access to “the truth.” But that someone isn’t a liar doesn’t imply that he speaks the truth. And someone speaking the truth doesn’t make the opposite false; every truth is a half-truth.
So… whom do you trust?