I Don’t Know What is the Truth and What is Fake

When I was a little boy, we watched the CBS Evening News. The anchor would sign off, “…and that’s the way it is, (the day and date). This is Walter Cronkite. Good Night.” And I just knew what he said was the truth. Back then, there were only 3 television networks and I thought they all said basically the same thing so he and the other anchors were telling us the same thing….the truth about the world.

Now, there are multiple networks and social media outlets.  We are bombarded everyday by multiple opinions, some diametrically opposing each other and some skewing what they report to support their view of the world. To make things worse, we just had a president that suggested for 4 years much of the news was fake. So, how do you know now what is real and what is fake?

A few thoughts…

First and foremost, YOU decide what is real and what is fake.

Think about this…you/everyone has their own opinions and they are based on personal experience. This is a filter that we run all new information through when deciding what is true. When we hear something that seems to fit what we know, we consider it the truth. When we hear something that doesn’t fit, we consider it fake. Our perspectives are also shaped by family, friends and co-workers and our past history of opinions. Occasionally, we change our perspectives when we are presented with overwhelming evidence to the contrary of our established views but ultimately, you decide.

This is uncomfortable admitting for a variety of reasons:

We all have a “back-stage” view of ourselves and know, too well, how often we are wrong. We don’t see other people in our lives like that, at least those we respect.

We have been taught there is “rights” and “wrongs” in the world. We were taught this when we were young and the examples given us were clear and extreme (stealing is wrong and being kind is right). So these truths/perspectives are permanent. Stealing, lying, murder is always wrong; telling the truth and being polite is always right. Later, we realize there are times when the rightness/wrongness is not so clear. But by then the permanent right/wrongs are deeply rooted.

We were taught right/wrong by “authorities”…. your parents, your teachers, ministers/priests, etc. And we were taught such, in the later case, on behalf of God, the ultimate judge of what is right and wrong. They outranked us then and we tend to project this on the people we hear news from now. Presentation (how the person presents themselves with reporting) also influences this.

We never know the whole story of anything we see or hear. This is a reality of life and it applies as much to the little things (i.e., couple sitting in my office recounting what each did/said during a fight the night before), as to the big things (i.e., events unfolding on the other side of the world). And yet we make judgments and act on them.

We increasingly want and expect immediate answers to questions. Our ever evolving technology enables this and our need to feel “in control” of our lives demand this.

Finally, sometimes it seems that what I can do seems wholly inadequate to make the changes needed (….but history is replete with examples that that is not always the case).

More later…..