A modern phenomena is the increasing velocity with which people seem to judge the actions of others. This can be seen on social media posts and many news articles that focus on a single video recording made from a witness’s mobile phone. Unfortunately the posts and news articles typically portray a single facet of a more sophisticated story. However, the posts and articles have already been “clicked” and “liked” and people have already made their judgements. The posts and news articles have already done irrevocable damage on the lives and reputation of many individuals.
This mob mentality is seen in the ‘Majority Rule’ episode of ‘The Orville’ series written by Seth MacFarlane. In the episode all individuals in a civilization have a badge that others can give “up” or “down” votes to. The moral of the story is about the difference between opinion and knowledge. This difference is often blurred on social media platforms. This difference is also blurred by the Trump administration’s narrative around “fake news” and “alternative facts” that attempts to debunk journalism.
Following five police officers killed, George W. Bush gave a speech regarding race relations in the US. From this speech two sentences have stayed with us:
The meaning that stayed with us from these two sentences is about the actions of individual people rather than demographic groups. All too often we might judge other individual people based on their worst behavior. Perhaps this behavior was borne from a difficult situation or a difficult time in their lives. It might be easy for us from out comfortable armchair, to look at a social media post or a news article and make a snap judgement. But as armchair judges we just have a few facts that might be shaped by the biases of the author, the news editor, or the news source owner. Both social media posts and news articles can be written for attention alone, rather than being based on journalistic integrity. Therefore, what value does our judgement really achieve other than to elevate the social media posts or the news articles through “clicks” and “likes”?
We are not suggesting that people quit their social media accounts or stop reading news sources, but to question what the posts and articles are trying to evoke or achieve. We would like the reader to seek out reliable news sources that have journalistic integrity.