Is The Internet Bad For Truth... Or Is The Truth Bad For Truth?
from the perception-and-reality dept
Apparently, some people feel quite differently.
Over in Forbes, there's a column by Melik Kaylan, where he claims that the internet is "bad for truth" because it presents so many contradictory ideas. He bemoans the fact that, in the good old days, the truth was whatever the elitist and limited media told you was the truth, no matter how wrong it might have been. But, these days, with so many different and contradictory voices, Kaylan worries that the actual truth just gets blurry and people simply surround themselves with the truth that they want and ignore the "official" truth.
This is, really, just a rehashing of the old "echo chamber" insult that gets thrown at various online communities -- and I've yet to see much evidence that it's true at all. Folks involved in extreme communities often seem to actively seek out opposing viewpoints, if only to trash them. Yes, I'm sure there are some folks who refuse to read anything critical of their own viewpoints, but those people are so far gone already, I'm not sure it really matters. As someone who is occasionally accused of having "extreme" points of view, I actively read the viewpoints of various critics and people who disagree with me, because it helps me to continually understand that "truth" that I seek. It keeps me sharp as I keep refining and adjusting my own beliefs -- whether it's figuring out why someone I disagree with is wrong, or if I can't figure it out, refining my own beliefs. Not everyone is necessarily like that, but I'd argue that people are a lot better off having more information at their fingertips to make their own decisions than when they got the word from on high from some "official" source.
It's not that the internet is bad for truth. It's that people have started to realize that the "truth" provided to them from official sources wasn't true at all. The real problem for "the truth" was that the actual truth didn't match up to it. That's not the "fault" of the internet -- it's one of the benefits of the internet.