When it comes to being a good citizen, I think it’s fair to say that you should want to see solutions in your community and not just arguments. However, that doesn’t seem to be something that we excel at making into a reality, maybe it’s because we lack the discipline and education to do so.
In order to make informed decisions and to act and vote in a way that benefits the country and the community around them, people need to understand the facts of a situation while understanding how their own completely-human tendencies may push them to a skewed view of things. This means recognizing bias in yourself and thinking through if you’re hearing bias in your media, listening to and seeking out other opinions, and using whatever decision making power you have to do what’s logically the best for everyone.
Recognizing Bias in Media and Yourself
How we see the world is wholly unique to each of us as individuals. We’ve come up in different places, with different people, and different situations. It’s impossible not to have some bias, but we can always try to minimize it by checking ours and others.
With ourselves we have to ask, is there any reason I’m not willing to accept this point of view that solely circulates around me? If so, we need to ask at what point that’s selfish. Sometimes it may be such an outsized effect on you that it’s not selfish to protect yourself, but whether or not it is needs to be considered.
With media, it takes a little more education and training yourself. Taking every opinion or argument from the other side as bias, is just being heavily biased yourself. Determining real bias means finding out the facts for yourself, finding out who’s word is reliable, and being able to read between the lines when people chop and form what they really want to say into an easily digestible sound bite.
Getting News From Multiple Sources
One of the only real ways to get better at recognizing those things that makes a piece of media biased is to get insights from multiple sides. When you do this, you start to see what “facts” in the news overlap enough to be considered facts and where others might be taking liberties. There’s really no other way to actually know if you’re seeing bias in how a situation is covered. If you don’t seek out more than one perspective then you will end up living in an echo chamber, where your station of choice keeps telling you what you want to hear because that’s how they keep you tuned in and how they keep collecting ad dollars. Changing the station, or going to a different website, is a way of telling them they won’t get all of your attention if they can’t gather all the facts.
Making Informed Decisions
None of your being informed really matters if you don’t put it into practice. That’s why we need to vote, not only at the ballot box every so often, but with our dollar and our attention as well. Choosing not to engage with certain companies and giving less of your attention to media outlets with rampant bias and sensationalism is how you follow through on your knowledge. In this way, you’re doing your part to starve the beast. You’re being part of the solution by forcing them to change or fall to the wayside.
Solutions Won’t Come if We Stand in Our Own Way
Continuing to analyze and go about our problems in such a partisan way in this country is going to lead us nowhere good. Pledging allegiance to a certain media outlet, company, or organization before your country and your fellow man is foolish, and is more apt to make you a pawn in our society than if you really considered all the perspectives, problems, and prospective solutions for yourself.