Monday, January 29, 2018

observation one of two

I've been doing at least a little bit of cross-reading of the news in the last year or so (meaning, I've been trying to read some conservative sources along with my usual liberal-slanted favorites). And something occurred to me recently. You can predictably guess how a story will play on either side, so there's not much of a surprise there. I think a more interesting difference is in how either side reports on the other side's extremes. You know-- how the conservatives report on liberal extremists, how the liberals report on conservative extremists. Because in each case, the media tries to make it sound like the other side's extremes are normal, at the same time that they have a huge blind spot when it comes to their own extremists.

For example, the liberal media reports on white supremacists, and their conclusion is: see? this is what conservatives are like. Even if they say they disagree, they are still allowing white supremacists to find a home in their party. But I suspect that most conservatives have no idea what the white supremacists are up to, because Fox News never talks about them. I bet my two readers who are conservatives would be unable to tell you who Richard Spencer is, but Richard Spencer shows up in my newsfeed regularly.

And conversely, a conservative relative of mine posted a story about liberal protesters at a university trying to break up a peaceful meeting of a conservative student group. My relative was incensed that liberals were getting away with this clear violation of freedom of speech, but among liberals, it seems like an insignificant one-off, because the liberal news media never reports on that stuff. That hardly ever happens, liberals think. It's not nearly as big a deal as racism or homophobia. And yet there's plenty of evidence that particularly on college campuses, conservative voices are being ridiculed, harassed, and even suppressed. Conservative news sources make it sound like this happens all the time; liberal news sources rarely talk about it.

I don't think there's any way to change this, it's just the way social media news feeds function these days. But I think it can help to be aware of it. Your news feed may not be feeding you straight-up lies, but it might be leaving stuff out, the disturbing things about your own side that you don't want to hear.

I was going to put both of my observations in one post but this one turned out to be longer than I expected (OF COURSE), so I will save "observation two of two" for another time.

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