The danger of “I like what I know and know what I like”

Before the advent of smartphones and computers, people obtained news by radio and the newspaper. Nowadays, modern technologies, such as smartphones, have revolutionized the news industry, and greatly impacted how news readers obtain their news. More importantly, and concerningly, with these new sources, people now have little to no control over what news actually gets to them.

Newspapers and radios do not specifically cater content to the reader. They present all newsworthy news, from whatever topic, from whatever country, and from whatever political stance to the reader. Though these sources could lean left or right, these major newspapers still present news proportional to the world.

But now, with smartphones and the internet as many people's’ main sources of news, the process of obtaining and reading news is completely different. At BHS, it is usual for students to have an internet-based platform as their main source of news, from Reddit, to Google or Apple news, to stories on Instagram and Snapchat.

One of the main differences between traditional newspapers and internet-based news is that apps like Google News and Apple News cater to readers based on their interests and what they have liked before. Additionally, on Instagram and Snapchat, users can choose which news networks they want to follow, adding more to the selectiveness of modern news.

So, as time has progressed, society has seen a shift of news from non-discriminatory sources like the radio and newspapers, to internet sources which cater to the opinions and stances of the reader.

Students are already receiving and reading biased and globally unproportional news. However, what is more eyebrow-raising is the fact that students seem to be quite apathetic to the issues, despite acknowledging the existence of the problem.

“If I cared more, I would think that [catered news] is a bad thing. But I like what I am reading,” sophomore Connie Nong said.

Sophomore Maxim Yu concisely summed up the phenomena, “people like to have their opinions validated.”

But “knowing what you like and liking what you know” is dangerous. Though it creates a complacent atmosphere, as people slide deeper and deeper into their respective atmospheres, they continuously lose sight of the other side.

However, there are ways to avoid this problem, and luckily, they are quite simple.

“I suggest reading at least 3 different sources every day,” history teacher Joshua Gnass said. “One major American news source, one major foreign news source, and one American liberal or conservative source. You can scan the headlines, and it shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes.”

“It is always good to get a broad world perspective, and it is very important to see what other around the world think,” Gnass said.

Some students have also caught onto this style of open-minded newsreading.

“I get a lot of my news from Reddit,” sophomore Justin Zheng said. “But since it’s Reddit, it is very liberal biased, and mostly unreliable. To counter this, I read Fox and Breitbart to see the other side and understand the other viewpoint.”

By reading news off apps or sites that select articles that match our personal interests or political stance, we are essentially being frogs at the bottom of a well. Except we threw ourselves down there, and we somehow enjoy looking up at only a portion of the sky, despite knowing that there is more sky to be seen. Don’t you want to see the rest of the sky?

Posted on March 21, 2017 .