The director of the World Health Organization said about COVID-19: “Fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus.” Indeed, if you’re looking for truth in today’s world, then the truth is that everybody’s lying. Every media outlet warps and manipulates the news according to the agenda of its owner.
We can keep avoiding the sincere soul searching that we need to do and go down the path we have been on for decades, but evidently, it won’t lead us anywhere good.
In the past, when newspapers and television received their funding from subscribers, from people buying actual copies of newspapers, the press was obliged to provide the readers or the viewers with true stories. Today, when the media is owned by media moguls and depends on advertisers for its existence, it is indebted only to them, and honest reporting has become obsolete. The good news, if you can call it that, is that today everyone already knows that everyone is lying.
We still consume news from the media, since there is no other source of news, but at least it’s with a grain of salt. And speaking of salt, the media today is like the food we eat: big, shiny, and flawless in appearance. But inside, the food is pumped with hormones, steroids, and antibiotics. We all know it, and we all eat it. What else can we do?
Here we need to be honest with ourselves. It’s true that the media is corrupt, but this hasn’t been news for a long time now. So we should ask, Where did the journalists come from? Where did they grow up? Where were they educated? Where did they learn to distort and manipulate? They learned it in the same place where we grew up, where we were educated, where we learned to manipulate one another. The media are not more corrupt than the environment that bred them, which is all of us. They are made in our own image.
To get truthful news, it’s not enough to condemn them; they cannot be better than the public that engendered them. Instead, we need to look at ourselves in the mirror, admit that the people we patronize with our self-righteousness actually do reflect who we are, and ask ourselves if this is the society we want to live in.
If we do, then there is nothing to complain about. But if we don’t, there is a lot we can do. We can start by learning how we are all connected to each other. Just as one person with the coronavirus can infect dozens of people, if not more, so can our actions and even our thoughts. When ill-will toward each other reins high, people will do bad things to one another, reflecting what they feel inside. But when they feel connected to their communities and countries, when they care about their neighbors, they will not harm them. So the root of the problem that creates bad press is that we ourselves are bad to one another. If we are bad to one another, can we complain that someone else is bad to us?
We are reversing JFK’s motto, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” and complain when it doesn’t work. In principle, we all agree with JFK, but we want everyone else to go first. With this attitude, we will die before anyone does something.
The present is the way it is because we have avoided dealing with ourselves, with how we relate to each other, and with what kind of society we are fostering. We can keep avoiding the sincere soul searching that we need to do and go down the path we have been on for decades, but evidently, it won’t lead us anywhere good.
Alternatively, we can decide that we have to finally get off our couches and start working for each other. It doesn’t require radical changes; we don’t need to donate our savings, if we have any, and we don’t have to sacrifice anything. We only need to look inside ourselves and observe how we relate to one another, because this is where we are really sick. This is the virus we are giving to each other morning, noon, and night. If we want to become different to each other, we will, provided we want it together. This is the idea we need to promote, that together we can build a caring society, whose people are responsible for one another. If we adopt that tiny shift in our mentality, we will see a different world. Together, we can move mountains.