Unclear Authority

In the olden days (AKA pre-2000s) there were a limited number of places to hear about current political events. Besides the daily newspaper and the local news, there wasn’t a whole lot else. CNN and Fox News were still trying to grow and social media was still at least a decade away.

Then the internet was unleashed in the new millennium and suddenly anyone had access to a platform. This set off an explosion of independent media sources, turbocharged by the popularity of video and the introduction of Youtube in 2005. Now instead of one or two sources, we had thousands, all purporting to tell you the truth about what’s going on in the world.

There are many benefits to allowing anyone to voice or share ideas and a platform to launch enterprises. However, it’s become clear that even the most educated people struggle to distinguish who is trustworthy or not. It’s difficult to parse who is an expert and who is pretending to be one, what is truth, a half-truth and a lie, and what is deliberately manipulating you to sell you a product or idea.

The result is that we give authority to those who confirm our personal biases because it “feels” right. Due to the information overload of the internet, our brains crave easy solutions, so we end up agreeing with the ideas that we already agreed with. But this means closing ourselves off from opinions that challenge our own, keeping our minds closed and making us resentful towards those who disagree with us. 

History shows that when there is a vacuum of authority, those with the most power to manipulate will step into power. Are we ready to let this happen?

Learn more about how unclear authority impacts us all and find ways to sharpen your bullshit detector:

Who Can You Trust? Crash Course Navigating Digital Information #4

Still not sure? Install one of these Chrome extensions to identify fake and biased news for you: