Downfall of the “meeting of the minds”

Posted on Apr 12 2013 - 3:41pm by Anna Rush

It’s hard to avoid the gun debate. Whether you turn on the TV or your computer or revert to the dark ages and open up an actual newspaper, it’s there.

What has grabbed my attention is not the debate itself but the way it’s being delivered.

The two sides could not be more different, both in the statistics and sources they use.
The words and phrases used in the rhetoric of both sides are even vastly different.

This great divide between the two sides of the argument is a growing trend in politics, leaving the different sides of issues so isolated that they can barely understand each other.
A lot of blame can be placed on the double-edged sword of the technology age, with its connectedness and ease of access to information.

On the one hand, we are able to choose where our information comes from and get it as often as we want. But on the downside, we can, perhaps unknowingly, limit the information we get depending on the sources that we choose.
This paradox impacts news sources as well.

In order to be competitive, they have to curtail the information they publish and the manner in which they convey stories so as to attract more visitors to their website or viewers to their channel.

This results in a narrowing of viewers’ or readers’ intake of information and a deeper entrenchment of the news sources in one side of the argument.
Long gone are the days where everyone read the same paper or tuned into the same nightly news.

Newscasters then only focused on hard-tack information and did not need to dwell on the so-called “spin” their wording would put on it.
Now, typing in “gun control” on your Google browser yields more than 1.2 billion hits.
The top links lead to legitimate news sources from all over the political spectrum, but a quick scroll down gets deep into quasi-accurate news-blogs with even more biased headlines.

Click on different links and you see vastly different statistics ranging from projected impacts of the bill to even percentages of how Americans view the issue.
The headline for one might read, “Hopes of a compromise will be answered soon.”

Another reads, “Americans ask Congress to stand up and fight to protect rights.”

Depending on which rabbit hole you follow, you could easily lose sight of the other side’s opinion and reasoning.
The nature of our society in the 21st century is not to research both sides or read a variety of sources.

As the popular Internet meme suggests, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
Rushing through information and cherry-picking our sources narrows our views rather than expanding them.

To utilize the wealth of information, we need to examine multiple sources, not just the ones that align with our views.

We need to decipher whether a source is a legitimate, factually based news source or a sensationalized blog.

We need to stop and take the time to actually read the paper.
Speaking of reading the paper, you’ve just taken the time to read this.

Give yourself a pat on the back because you’re already ahead of the game.

Anna Rush is a second-year law student from Hattiesburg. She graduated from Mississippi State University in 2011. Follow her on Twitter @annakrush.