Our society has become too gullible


In today’s world we are constantly bombarded with news from many sources; whether we read the news “online” in the local, regional or national newspapers, watch FOX, CNN, MSNBC or one of the local television stations — how we react to what is reported can vary greatly. And, our perception becomes our reality.

If one grows up on the west coast of Florida, or somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, they learn different things, and some things they just simply learn differently. Our perceptions of the world in which we live are formed from the time we take our first breaths. It is how we perceive things — our reality — that cause us to respond to the various stimulates that surround us. Thus, our perception of a situation may differ slightly or even vastly from that of the guy next door.

As we hear and read about the differences in the reporting of the situation on our southern border with Mexico, for instance, every media outlet has a slightly different version, and those in their target audience will usually accept what is reported. But if we put all of the different scenarios, “facts” and “fake news” in one big pot and stir it around, I wonder how much of the real story would bubble to the top and how much of the “fake news” would sink to the bottom.

That’s the problem with much of what we hear, read and spread as “facts.” If we like a particular politician, we tend to believe them no matter what, and the opposite is true if we don’t like them. We’ve become complacent and apathetic and even a little lazy when it comes to true fact finding. It is easier to just let it go, wave our hand and accept things because they aren’t that big of a deal, or we aren’t directly affected by whatever it is that is being reported. But why?

Why shouldn’t we hold ourselves, and our preferred media outlets, to a higher standard? Why shouldn’t we stop and ask some real questions even if we make a few waves by doing so? If perception is reality, and we perceive every word or act of a particular individual or news source to be totally true, without bias, without a hidden agenda, who are we fooling?

I was approached recently and asked about a situation involving parking on Central Avenue in Dunkirk. The individual told me he “heard there will be no more parking on Central Avenue in Dunkirk starting in November and that all of the parking meters were being taken out.”

Of course, he didn’t want to tell me where he heard this piece of information, but he “knew it was true because someone had posted it on Facebook.” I tried, but was unable to convince him otherwise. I also could not convince him that just because it was on Facebook didn’t make it true. But in this man’s mind, it was true and he was angry about it and planned to start a petition against it.

I guess it all goes back to whatever one believes the meaning of “is” is — because whatever your definition, perception is reality — not necessarily factual, however.

It is August already; summer is winding down.

Have a great day.

Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com