News Consumption Blues

Wishing for a source of news that is unbiased and accurate.

Recently I was talking to a coworker about how we consume news. We both feel like we should at least have a clue what is going on at a local, state, national, and international level. Ignorance is not bliss for most of the people I associate with. I guess it’s culturally ingrained, not that there’s anything wrong with being from another subculture within the US that isn’t as concerned with knowing true from false, news from propaganda, etc. There have always been folks who are just fine in a local/family bubble; it’s sort of understandable, especially lately.

So many of us just want to know what’s happening beyond our doorstep. Photo by @madelinerosephoto via Twenty20

Anyway, my coworker and I found we were in really strong agreement about how we liked to get information, and agreed that things we see on social media platforms take too much energy to figure out whether to believe or not. We both just skip that stuff and are members of the “don’t make or read any comments” group.

A good local newspaper!

I have a source for international news that I like, and I am aware of the biases of the US-centric sources I use and that they play into my confirmation bias. I am able to weed out obvious slant-y things, but it gets tiresome! Surprisingly, I find have found local Austin and Cameron news sources (radio and newspaper) that are quite helpful and not too hard to get factual information from. I guess that’s what helps keep my head from exploding. That and NOT reading their Facebook pages.

Honestly, though, I miss being able to read a news source or watch the local news and just get a summary of things that have been happening, with no hidden commercials, obvious slants, and repetitive hype. I can’t stand the local news channels (all over the US, not just where I live) that repeat the same hyped-up snippet of a news piece repeatedly to get your attention, then present something totally bland. I’m smart enough to take information and run it through my own biases and interpret it myself. I don’t need help. Thus, I can’t make myself sit through any television news.

I don’t know how anyone manages to figure this stuff out, no matter what your biases are. Photo by @andreyyalansky19 via Twenty20

I’m aware that anything written by a person has biases, but I do remember when I was a kid we were trained to try to eliminate that as much as we could, and to clearly label opinion pieces. I wish ratings and ad revenue weren’t the actual reason for news content these days. But, it sure looks that way to me. The more incendiary content is, the more it sells.

Incendiary news sells, if you can read it before it goes POOF! Photo by @foto.privet via Twenty20

I’m wary of cutting myself off from all news sources, because so much affects me directly. Where can I find some simple statements of facts to learn from? Tell me! I’d buy some crap from a company or organization that sponsored accurate, unvarnished, information.

As always, I’d love your feedback and ideas.

Prejudice and Me

Extreme honesty alert!

Poor bear. What did the bear do to deserve this?

In any case, things I was reading today about other people’s biases gave me pause to think about my own. As hard as I’ve worked to overcome different kinds of prejudice, some seem almost hard wired. I have no scientific basis to go on, but my gut feeling is that these are the ones I learned when I was very young, before my ability to make judgments like that on my own kicked in.

Yep, I’m a white person. I was raised in a Southern US white culture. Some of the prejudices of that group rub off. I’ve spent many years dwelling on this, and it doesn’t make me happy. I know that having slave ancestors as well as slave owning ancestors is something to think about. I know I have biases in other areas that skew my opinions. I know I can’t fix past things. But I know I can work hard to treat people fairly today.

Where Prejudice Comes From (for me)

I sure know where a lot of my prejudices come from, and that’s my mom, whom I loved dearly, but I could tell from an early age had some extra doozies of flaws. One was her wide range of racial and ethnic stereotypes. She had a bad World War II experience (lost a fiance) and was pissed off at Japanese people and Germans (they spit when they talk) her whole life. She was also quite opposed to “white trash,” and kept telling us not to be like them. And she both loved black people personally and said awful things about them them as a group (probably from her own upbringing). All this stuff confused the heck out of me, and even though I was uncomfortable with the things she said and did, I know some of it sunk in.

Skin is just skin. Cultural differences are interesting, not scary. Yep. All images from here down from Twenty20.

Thanks to my upbringing, I was scared of black people and looked down from my barely middle-class perch at poor white people. I have a feeling many of my black and poor white future friends came about from me wanting to distance myself from my mom and not wanting to be like that. At least I stuck around to like my friends as people. But to this day, I get this tiny bit of negativity that my higher thought processes immediately slap down. Whew, no wonder racial stereotypes and prejudices are so hard to eradicate, when even someone who knows better and wants to judge people on who they are, not how they look, still deals with childhood crap.

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