Are you planning to turn your television to a non-Inauguration station tomorrow to help lower the Inauguration’s ratings?
If so, you forgot to verify what you read before accepting it. Because unless you’re a member of a Nielsen family, what you watch likely won’t affect anyone but you.
This isn’t the only example I could use (it’s unlikely Paul Ryan has disconnected his phones, too, just for starters), and I’m not sharing it to shame those who happen not to know what a Nielsen family is. I’m sharing it because one of the big lessons of the past election season, it seems to me, was that no matter what our political leanings are, we have got got GOT to get back into the habit of questioning what we read, even if–especially if–it agrees with what we already suspect to be true.
We have to start asking, “Where did this information come from?” We have to start looking for known, reliable sources, and asking who THEIR sources are, and visiting reliable fact checking sites. We have to get back to reading and listening with a healthy dose of skepticism, to knowing when to look at something and say “REALLY? SERIOUSLY?” We need to re-learn the difference between fact and interpretation, between drawing our own conclusions and creating our own reality.
After tomorrow, telling what is and isn’t true will likely get a lot harder. If we believe–and share–blindly, we become part of the problem, helping to spread false information and so making it that much harder to find the facts in a sea of distorted truths and flat-out fictional inventions.
If we believe blindly, we deny ourselves the information we need to know where and how to act, and we become easy prey for any passing piece of propaganda that contains some kernel of what we believe or want to believe. We move from false outrage to false outrage, and along the way miss the real outrages that need our attention.
So turn your television to whatever station you want; it won’t really matter. In the years ahead, a lot of other things will.