The Lowe Down by Pam Lowe
One thing we have learned or reinforced from this pandemic is our need for human contact. And the important role of technology in communicating with others. There is a skill in communicating effectively and correctly using technology. Even basic text can be misunderstood without the facial expression element; hence the creation of emoticons to help get a message across.
What has become very clear after nearly two years of the pandemic and in the current political landscape is that schools need to focus on media literacy. Our republic depends on the ability of its citizens to discern between truth, lies and conspiracy theories. Truth is the foundation of a stable, intelligent, and law-abiding society. I often feel like everything my generation and previous generations learned about virtue, living an honest life, integrity and the Golden Rule is no longer valued. We live in an upside down world where being a good person is not always noticed and being a crook or con man is applauded. It certainly seems to make people rich.
If we average citizens want to fight lies, we have to be able to tell the difference between the truth and a big lie. And more than that, we have to care about the difference.
What is important to note is that our children ingest information from many sources. Many of these sources today’s parents didn’t have to navigate growing up. Parents used to worry about what their kids were watching on TV or what songs they were listening to or what video games they were playing. Today, the internet can bring unwanted information into impressionable minds through apps on devices and cellphones. Young people receive information from all angles and many are from sources hidden from parents, such as text messages, memes, videos and social media.
Media can literally be created by anyone. It is always created for a reason and an informed reader can determine that reason and whether it is factual or biased. Taking advantage of those who can’t or won’t tell whether information is factual is exactly how trolls influence our thinking, our elections, and ultimately our lives. There is only one thing we can do to combat this and that is become a nation of critical thinkers and stop swallowing the message of every meme, article, etc. without checking the facts.
It is important for future generations of citizens to know how verification and proper sourcing works and how to discern between rumors and how to verify or even take the time to verify information.
What we have seen in recent years is that a person’s media diet strongly shapes their beliefs, and we cannot ignore the importance of this. The power of trolls and misinformed users on social media, bent on creating misinformation campaigns, influences many smart people. It’s amazing. Debunking misinformation should become second nature to all of us.
Another problem is confirmation bias, which has become so natural to some that they don’t even realize they’ve bought into conspiracy theories. Confirmation bias, if you’re not familiar with the term, occurs when people prefer information that confirms their beliefs without checking the facts, such as believing in a conspiracy about the validity of COVID or wearing a mask, because a person doesn’t want to think the virus is real and/or doesn’t want to wear a mask.
This allowed a pandemic to be politicized and as a result the United States, at one time a model of what a country should strive to be, has more Covid deaths than any other country in the world. world. We were once considered a superpower, but there are people around the world appalled at what we have allowed to happen to our soil and to our own people. They wonder what has become of our scruples and common sense.
According to NBC News Data as of January 12, 2022, here are the top six countries leading Covid deaths: United States – 845,939; Brazil – 620,366; India – 483,973; Russia – 310,513; Mexico – 300,334; and Peru – 203,067. (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/world-map-coronavirusdeaths-country-covid-19-n1170211) How could this have happened in the United States? ‘America ; the country that has the best scientists and has for years raced against Russia to have the best scientific advances? It happened because many of our fellow citizens have been victims of false information and no longer value scientists, doctors, professionals and prefer to believe in the hype, the lies and their own self-centered belief that they know better than the people who have dedicated their lives to medicine and scientific fields.
Unfortunately, Baby New Year couldn’t magically undo the damage done to our country, its people, and its image in the world as 2022 arrived. We can blame the pandemic for this mess we find ourselves in, but it’s all up to us.
Readers can contact Pam Lowe at [email protected]