TMI – What should I believe?

Credit: Blanco Tejedor

If you’re like me, your friends send links to YouTube shouting in all-caps: WATCH THIS.

I dutifully watch.

Nine times out of ten, the information flies in the face of whatever is carried on international news networks. The media is quick to label these alternative perspectives ‘conspiracy theories’.

On hoaxbuster sites, depending upon which one you click, either side may be dubbed a hoax.  

I like to be informed. I hate being misinformed. How does anyone decide what to believe?

I listened to a podcast recently. Cristos Goodrow, VP of Engineering at Google and Head of Search and Discovery at YouTube was being interviewed. He said, I helped grow YouTube from 100M hours of viewership per day in 2012 to over 1B hours per day. But when he explained how he accomplished that, it was bone-chilling. To ensure people would serial-watch YouTube videos he designed the algorithms to always give them more of what they were already consuming, never the opposing viewpoint.

When I head it I mentally thought: Ah-ha. That’s why people are so righteously convinced that their way is the only way and become militant about it. This algorithm is not encouraging us to be well informed, it’s essentially leading us down our chosen rabbit-hole and brainwashing us.

It isn’t likely that anybody you or I know personally has the inside scoop and can say with absolute certainty, This is the truth, believe it, you can trust me. No doubt there are factual elements on both sides. The challenge is to be a discriminating, independent thinker. Don’t swallow the bait, hook, line, and sinker.

Question everything and research the pros and cons. You probably have time.

Should there be lockdown – or not? Should we social distance – or not? Does wearing a mask help – or not? Should a vaccine be required – or not? Should a tracking app be mandatory – or not? Once infected am I immune – or not? Herd immunity – yes, no? There are convincing arguments for both sides of every one of those questions and hundreds more like them.

What I find most disturbing is the tremendous toll this is taking on humanity. The number of deaths is sobering. But the psychological trauma of living in confinement has consequences. The loss of jobs, livelihoods, mobility, freedom…

What are we protecting? At what cost? And after we’ve protected it, what’s left?

This is not one of my more upbeat writings. The conflicting viewpoints flooding in from caring friends is distressing. They can’t all be right. But they’re passionately convinced they are. If I ask, How do you know this is true? I’m sent another video preaching the same message and I wonder how Cristos Goodrow feels about his algorithms now.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. stevecastley
    May 23, 2020 @ 17:27:49

    Thanks Sherry. It is so very true.But also with anything new are yes and no answers applicable. Do people have the answers yet or are they all still speculating and hoping? So much to be said on this topic, but firstly we must remain safe and alive so we will in time find out the real answers, if there is such a thing. Steve.

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      May 25, 2020 @ 14:10:22

      Because of vast uncertainties, people indeed are speculating and presenting their perspectives as ‘the answer’. Is it an effort, perhaps, to feel like they have some modicum of control? I don’t know. You’re so right. It will unfold in time.

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  2. shanemac
    May 23, 2020 @ 18:06:35

    Just this afternoon I was in a discussion with friends about another “must see” video. I was surprised that we had some differing views but that’s okay. In fact, I think it is good that 1) we’re comfortable enough to disagree, and 2) it gives us pause to consider why we believe the way we do. We cannot rely on published articles or videos and lazily believe what we’re spoon fed. We must think for ourselves and research backgrounds of what we’re reading or watching.

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      May 25, 2020 @ 14:14:24

      You’re wise, Shane. Many people polarize over differing views. Friends are un-friended, battle lines are drawn. An open but discerning approach and a listening ear are probably our best tools for maintaining a balanced outlook and most friendships when there is just too much information!

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  3. Tracie Clang
    May 23, 2020 @ 20:02:03

    Omg! Can you send this in to every news outlet and social media site in the country :)? I always read your posts aloud to Mike over morning coffee, sometimes they need to be “less than upbeat” because what we are dealing with is less than upbeat!!! Thank you for your post and it is a good reminder to me, always, always look at both sides of the issue before formulating my Opinion!

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  4. Kate
    May 25, 2020 @ 09:20:02

    I feel so comforted to know that there are people that are brilliant, focused, and selfless enough to continually collect data in different ways to try and figure out the cause and effect of this once in our lifetime event. We all have to read, listen, weigh our own personal perspective of life and go from there. My place is not to change the minds of others, but to change my own if something new is discovered that will change my path during this time. But I will ALWAYS be kind, try to have grace, stay in, wear a mask, smile at everyone whether they smile back (it’s getting easier to do it with my eyes and a head tilt!); try to tredd lightly on our beautiful earth and remember that this costs me so very little, but the outcome could be a life.

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