Fact Or Fiction

Thoughts

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‘Fake news’. I by no means mean to quote Trump here, but certainly much of the ‘truth’ has been contorted by journalists and social media in recent years.

We have, now, got most information at our finger tips. With thanks to the internet we can find out the breaking news and the height of your favourite celebrity; any kind of information that will satisfy your curiosity and allow you to figure out how to build that Ikea coffee table. The internet has been an incredible invention that I doubt many of us can imagine life without. However, as with all things, it has its downsides. We can get brand new information quicker then ever before which means journalists are biting at the bit to get out the next news story; this often means that much of the information has not been backed up and that it could, in fact, be just a rumour. And it’s not just the information we are given, it’s the information that news broadcasters can choose not to give us. After all, as Sir Francis Bacon once said ‘ipsa scientia potestas est’ – Knowledge itself is power.

I recently read an article from a couple of years ago by Katherine Viner (editor in chief at The Guardian) entitled ‘how technology disrupted the truth’ it was a fascinating read and really got me thinking about the society we live in now and our dependance on technology.

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Viner talked about how “In the digital age, it is easier than ever to publish false information, which is quickly shared and taken to be true”. Not only does this mean that some of the information is censored but that rumours can be quickly spread just like in high school movies. She is referring to the use of social media. It is easy for anyone to read a post and share it to let everyone they know about this information, or for anyone to make up information and share it without any evidence. And with our busy lives we tend not to have the time to check the facts, we just assume and trust that the information we are provided with is true.

Social media is not only a place to spread information but according to many articles the companies can censor what information we are presented with online. So unless we are actively searching for a piece of information, it won’t be shown on our social media feeds. Viner writes about how “Algorithms such as the one that powers Facebook’s news feed are designed to give us more of what they think we want – which means that the version of the world we encounter every day in our own personal stream has been invisibly curated to reinforce our pre-existing beliefs.” This can be particularly an issue in Politics. If we are given information about a campaign or about someone running for prime minister then that information may sway our decisions about what or who we vote for, if after the decisions have been made and we find out that that information was in fact false then we may look back on our vote and regret it – then we have the issue of whether there needs to be a revote. (Just like we are having now on the Brexit ‘vote leave’ allegations.)

Facebook has pledged to begin to do something about this ‘filter bubble’ (as Eli Pariser, the co-founder of Upworthy, coins it). Although some think even this is ‘Fake news’ too. (Facebook ‘fake news’ article here)

Many people now rely on social media to gain information on current affairs and to help construct opinions but how can we do that if that information may just be a rumour? We are unlikely to check these ‘facts’ and just regard them as the truth without any further investigation, after all the news should be something we can trust in.

Many writers in the past have talked about issues with misinformation, the most famous of all being George Orwell in his novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. The phrase Orwell uses to sum this up is “Freedom is the freedom to say 2 plus 2 equals four” in other words, freedom only exists if all the information we are given is actually true. He comments on how easy it is for those in power or those we trust to say that “two plus two equals 5”. The sales of his best selling novel he wrote in 1948 shot up when Trump ran for president, with people making links between society now and the dystopian world Orwell presents for us.

Also in Margaret Atwood’s ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’ she writes that ‘there are 2 kinds of freedom, Freedom to and freedom from’.

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Im not saying that all the information we are told is false only that perhaps we need to be wary of what allegations being made by the media are true. This can only be done by checking on the sources and by reading around – To ask ourselves if the information we are being provided with is Fact or Fiction?

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Has Feminism Gone Too Far

Thoughts

I am a feminist. I believe that both sexes should be treated equally and that all people should feel empowered by their peers.

I don’t think that women are better than men, I think that we are all individuals with different strengths and weaknesses no matter what our gender or sex is. And that is the great thing about humans; our variation, how each person is unique, not identical to any other person. I think it would be crazy to make such a statement whether it be ‘men are better than women’ or ‘women are better than men’ or making comparisons between any group of people because we are all completely different in some way or another to other people. Not all women are the same, some are interested in science, some are sporty, some are arty. Each individual is unique. Not all men are the same. Some like sport, some don’t, some are academic, some aren’t. It would be crazy to make such a statement because we would then be labelling a particular group of people based on one aspect of who they are. Each person is unique.

Which is why I titled this post ‘has feminism gone too far’ – are some trying to turn it less into equality for all and more into women are more powerful? Yes I think that we should try and empower other women because women have been seen to be the weaker sex throughout history. I walked into Waterstones the other day and saw that they had done a table of children’s books that are all about incredible female protagonists and showing children that women can be strong and can do anything. And I thought that this is how the stereotype of women will be eradicated, the stereotype is all down to society and that is difficult to change when we have all had these stereotypes drilled into us in our childhood with phrases like ‘run like a girl’ ‘cry like a girl’ ‘ladylike’ etc.  But now I wonder if this ideal had gone far, forgetting about equality altogether.

People will always try and find something to comment on about someone else, as humans we seem to always be comparing, always judging. Pointing out something different about a particular group of people; weather that be sex, skin colour, body size, religion or even hair colour.

Have other issues gone too far? For example racism, Now white people are almost discriminated against with phrases like ‘such a white girl’ or ‘thats so white’. Whilst campaigning for equality for races the other side has been discriminated against. But its different all over the world, for many parts of America there is still significant segregation whilst in others it’s going the other way.

Overall, in an ideal world we would all empower each other and stop judging and comparing others so much. We are all unique and individual so cannot label people in the way we are beginning too. In an ideal world we would all respect the fact that we are all individual and unique. In an ideal world our biology wouldn’t change how others treat us.

Can we create this ideal world?