Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Facts and Opinions in the Internet World

Here is a brilliantly-written, satirical editorial by Rex W. Huppke, Chicago Tribune reporter. The author mourns the death of Facts, and writes an obituary.

Political in nature, the editorial also alludes to information overload in the digital age:
To the shock of most sentient beings, Facts died Wednesday, April 18, after a long battle for relevancy with the 24-hour news cycle, blogs and the Internet.
American society has lost confidence that there's a single alternative...Anybody can express an opinion on a blog or any other outlet and there's no system of verification or double-checking, you just say whatever you want to and it gets magnified. It's just kind of a bizarre world in which one person's opinion counts as much as anybody else's.
I love this editorial and its commentary on modern life. I learned long ago, probably in college, that 47% of statistics are false. Today, that number is probably a lot higher. (This is, of course, an old joke.)

In all seriousness, I probably take very little that I read as 100% concrete, unwavering and factual. Don't polls include a margin of error? Aren't researchers trained that there is also a margin of error in their data? Are you ever sure who is funding the studies that provide the "facts?"

I write this little blog and I quote a lot of research and data. I try my best to use legitimate sources and provide lots of references so the reader can read on. Still, the information I share is only as good as the sources that I use. And I hope that the information I reference is as accurate and unbiased as possible.

One last quote from the editorial:
Opinion has become the new truth. And many people who already have opinions see in the 'news' an affirmation of the opinion they already had, and that confirms their opinion as fact.
Studies in psychology teach us that people often internalize what confirms their original beliefs, and they tend to ignore or refute things that are contrary.

I share my opinions on this blog. But you never know... I could be wrong about things. Still, my hope is that we as parents take a moment to stop and think about how technology might influence our individual families in ways that we may not want. We need to be in charge of our families' media consumption and screen time, and not let the technology be in charge.

We need to take pause, determine our priorities for our kids - and for ourselves as parents, partners and spouses - and move those priorities to the top of the list.

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