How modern media influence our beliefs

Posted on June 23, 2011

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Modern media or the internet is considered a boon to the wired world of communication and over the years it has held its place therefore creating a powerful impact on people and providing the world with vast knowledge and entertainment. Nonetheless, it is still debated that along with positive changes like giving common people a platform to voice their opinions and transcending communication over geographical boundaries, it has a negative impact on society like giving rise to a generation of addicts, that have based their views on people solely on what they see and hear on the carefully manipulated media in this case the internet.

The mainstream media restricts free speech but at least most of the time they make an effort to check facts that is unless they are on the governments’ payroll.  On the other hand on-line blogs can allow any form of speech, but few of them document any efforts to check their facts which make most of them unreliable. (”Weapons of mass disinformation. (n.d.). Oil empire”).  However, with this “expressive freedom” there comes a destructive flaw that is slowing eating its way into the society like a plague, through means of falsified information or Conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories are often understood as false embellishments had have been added to a real story, the writer aims to sell his opinion on a particular subject using manipulative words in a way that the readers are biased and unconsciously lean towards the writer’s take on the story. Crimson Politics a Republican blogging site states the bitter truth in the simplest way, “We are all victims of this infection. There really are no exceptions, even if we think of ourselves as realists and skeptics, there are conspiracies that even we believe in somewhat”. (“Conspiracy theories an Infection”, Crimson Politics).

Now that internet has taken over mainstream media, things are rapidly changing all over the world especially the way news is delivered these days. Various types of journalism are emerging and communication is being given a facelift. Through blogs and personal websites the internet has provided common people a chance to voice their opinions on particular news, politics and often their personal thoughts. Lately, blogs have undergone a revolution, bloggers or people who maintain personal sites have been strongly criticized for their deviant comments on religion and politics. Many of these bloggers have gained increasing coverage for their role in shaping and structuring news story and adding a new spin by editorializing.

The internet has helped conspiracy theorists publicize their idea and maximize their audience. Especially when the internet these days is used as one of the primary source of news and information, it is easier for conspiracy theories to thrive as it is easily available to millions of viewers. Conspiracy theories often have a domino pattern of effect on society, once the manipulated news is streamed online, within days thousands of people have already viewed it, if the news is controversial, then people tend to act on it if it is something they immensely believe in. Hence, falsified news could create a negative impact on people, affecting minds and altering views on certain news pertaining to religion and politics as these are the some of the common areas of interest.  Even though it is known that these fallacies are seldom supported by concrete evidence and are often inaccurate, yet people do succumb to these theories.

In my opinion the process of rumors and conspiracy theories is entirely dependent on the writer’s interpretation of a story, which could contain little or no evidence and sometimes misinterpretation of evidence. However, sometimes when viewers and readers turn off their minds from the real world news and opinions, the fictional media or conspiracy theorists make way by constant persistence of fabricated news, which seem inviting with their new twists and believable plots. Even though the readers understand that the content may not be accurate, yet the possibility of believing in them would seem hard to resist. The viewers believe that unless they are provided with evidence relating to the story – “that contextual features and background characteristics reflect the real world” (“The Effects of Fictional Media on\Real World Beliefs in Conspiracy Theories”, allacademics.com, 2009)

Hence, after fair amounts of exposure to rumors and theories, the viewers gradually merge factual with hypothetical situations, therefore letting conspiracy theories influence their beliefs as they selectively choose to absorb what they believe in.

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