Why Your New Year’s Resolution Should be Objectivity

It’s been a while since I’ve written on this blog. I’ll get into the reasons why (hopefully) in a post in the not to distant future. Long story short though, I’ve been quite busy, a bit frazzled, and lacking quite a bit of motivation to write. One of the primary reasons for that last item — you know, beyond stress, the holiday season, work, and other minutiae — is because there’s just so much out there that people get angry about on a constant basis.

Back in 2008, I was a senior in college studying broadcasting, specifically sports journalism. As I was entering my final semester, I came to a troubling realization. After two years of working in radio and analyzing sports as part of my day-to-day work at a radio station, I realized that I really don’t care all that much about sports. I mean, I like sports. I enjoy watching football, hockey, and pretty much any sport that isn’t basketball, golf, or baseball. But I wasn’t the rabid fan who was going to scream at you for being a fan of a certain team. Sure, there’s teams I don’t particularly care for, and I do get annoyed when those teams are successful((2015 has been a particularly shitty year in this regard, as the NCAA and NHL teams I hate the most won titles, and my favorite NFL team lost to a team that I don’t particularly care for in the Super Bowl)), but all things considered, sports aren’t that important.

While the fact that I had jammed 4 years worth of courses into 5 semesters made it way too late to change my major, the duel experience of both realizing that I don’t care about things as much as some people and of being jaded of media stuck with me. Going home for Christmas helped remind me that there are many things((Such as guns, religion, and living close to your family.)) that my family cares about far more than I do.

On a basic level, this is fine. Everyone has their interests, their passions, and their opinions. It’s awesome to have those beliefs because it’s part of what makes you who you are as an individual. The problem comes when those beliefs become so vehemently pitted against someone with opposing beliefs that you’re unwilling to work with them, unwilling to listen to them, and unwilling to live with that person in your life in any capacity.

I’ve seen this phenomenon occur to various degrees in my life. On the not-so-extreme side, a childhood friend of mine had a father who refused to travel to the state of Michigan for fear that some of his money might end up going to the University of Michigan in some roundabout way((The hilarious thing to me was when his son — said childhood friend — chose to go to U of M for his master’s degree, despite the fact that said son was an Ohio State fan, just like his father.)). On the more extreme side, you have the((At least in the USA.)) domestic partisan politicking of liberals and conservatives that has become so entrenched that Congressional progress has become a literal oxymoron, not just a figurative one. You also have the more international, and frankly more frightening, concerns of groups like the Islamic State((I think that’s what we’re calling them now?)) using terrorism and violence to attempt to create divides between the “worlds” of Christians and Muslims, when in fact that we’re just the same set of people living in the same world.

In my attempts to unwind and destress, I’ve found myself watching a lot of videos by Crash Course and Vlog Brothers, which means that there has been quite a bit of influence from John and Hank Green in my background noise. Today, I came across Hank’s video about what happened in Benghazi. The video on the subject itself is interesting, but what I’d like for you to watch is the approximately two minute post script that Hank Green delivers after he finishes talking about Benghazi.

Green goes on a lengthy monologue about the relative lack of objective sources discussing important topics in our world and doing so without politicizing the event itself. Most discussions of hot button events, Green posits, quickly turn into these giant wars of good versus evil, or evil versus good, depending on which side of the argument you find yourself on. I’ve found myself in a similar situation many times in the past, as I recently discussed in my birthday post. It’s hard to be objective, particularly when the world around you is so hellbent on politicizing events and trivializing causes to be part of sweeping generalizations of the world at large.

As I continue to evolve as a person, as an adult, and as an educator, I’m beginning to recognize that I have a responsibility to deliver facts, relationships between causes and effects, and ideas with as much of a limited bias as I possibly can. I say I not because I consider myself to be entitled to take upon this task as some holy sacrifice or something of the like, but because I see myself as a part of a larger society that needs to hold the same ideals. When anger, rage, terror, subjectivity, bias, and the like have gotten us only to a point where we hold vitriol and hate for our common man, what recourse do we have but to attempt to solve these problems but with the antithesis of those ideas?

It takes a lot of time, patience, and education to attempt to slice through all the bias, advertising, and propaganda that we’re presented with in our media-driven culture. The more we attempt to do that as a society, the easier it will be for us to be able to truly create progress to a greater and more cooperative world.

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2 thoughts on “Why Your New Year’s Resolution Should be Objectivity

  1. This x 1000. The media is for sure the driver of this, but it irritates me that the public falls into these traps so easily. I feel like both sides of most issues are just completely unwilling to look at issues from a factual perspective. Everyone would much rather go on impassioned rants about morality and their own ideology. I’m pretty much a centrist/moderate politically (not on every issue, but on most) so I am frequently annoyed at how extremists (on any side) just attack and name call to the other side rather than actually try and work out some kind of solution. I don’t consider myself super educated as far as the news and politics and I honestly am kind of ok with that because I think I’d just be angry all the time if I were.

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    1. As much as I’d like to blame media as the primary cause of this phenomenon, I don’t think it’s solely the media’s doing. Sure, deregulation of media has played a part in the increase in bias coming from media outlets over the last 20 or so years, however like you said, people like ranting. People are going to find ways to be angry and passionate about things — and want people to listen to them — regardless of how that message gets across. It’s just scary when someone with extreme opinions and extreme/hateful language gets a large platform with which to rant. That’s when scary things happen.

      I think that becoming more educated about news, politics, and history made me much more angry at first. Once I hit a certain point, however, and began to understand how modern politics fits in through the course of history, I became less angry. It doesn’t justify people’s needs to be angry and it doesn’t mean I don’t want to change things…but I understood.

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