OPINION

In Our Opinion

Social media fails "duck test"

Posted

It looked like a duck. It quacked like a duck. But it wasn’t a duck.

And the thing is, it never even really pretended it was a duck. But we wanted it to be one so badly, we made it true. Until it was no longer true, that is. The truth always has its day of reckoning.

Welcome to that day.

As we watch the major social media platforms restrict public figures and their use of those platforms, suddenly there’s a great outcry regarding First Amendment rights and the issue of censorship.

Social media isn’t media dedicated to free speech. It never was. Rather, it’s the most ingenious sales tool ever developed.

In short, the evolution of the major social media platforms played out like this: It allowed young adults to keep in touch in a “social” sort of way. And then it caught fire. And then its entrepreneurial creators understandably looked for a way to monetize their popular idea. And so a platform where we freely shared movie reviews, and restaurant check-ins, and even the “quizzes” that determined what kind of tree we were most like – all that information formed a highly accurate profile of consumer buying habits and social habits with near 100 percent predictability. And the profiles were sold to the highest bidder.

The unfortunate outcome is this: No one took your rights. You willingly gave them away. And the facts to the contrary were right in front of us all. We didn’t see the facts because we didn’t want to.

Capitalism and free enterprise vs. a free press. There’s a big difference.

And while we’re hitting on all these topics, let’s hit on one more. Freedom of speech is a guaranteed civil right granted in the First Amendment. But as with all our rights, it carries responsibility. There are limits, as well, including libel, slander, incitement, and others. Walking into the county courthouse yelling “bomb” without good reason is not protected speech. It can get you in some trouble.

In the grand scheme of things, there’s never been a revelation that pointed so well to the importance of community journalism in rural America.

‘Fake News’ is contrived phrase

This raises another false concept of recent historical significance - fake news.
Fake news is an empty and contrived phrase imagined by public figures at the highest level as a distortion of facts and circumstances less than favorable to them.

There is no alternate reality. There are no alternative facts. And every single one of us has a responsibility to sort this out for ourselves, instead of just endorsing the things we’d prefer to hear and regurgitating them in an irresponsible social media post.

Enter your local newspaper.

Rural citizenry understands the community benefits of a strong public education system, access to modern health care, infrastructure development, and investing in the local economy. A robust community journalism presence is no less important to areas like Mountain View and Stone County.

The local newspaper is that tangible critical friend of all our communities. It celebrates the good and highlights the bad. And it is crafted by professionals who live in the local area, and, moreover, people who care passionately about what they do. Local community journalists are invested in their communities and know that truth and the free exchange of information are the best prescriptions for a healthy society.

Community newspapers serve as a tool for shaping thought, a forum for public discussion and debate, and a way to inform the public about wrongdoing. Editorial staff members are educated and experienced in truth gathering and disseminating that information.

When it comes to relevant news and information, your local newspaper is the reliable source.

Truth is our agenda.

In our dedication to this mission, you’ll see new developments here at the Leader in 2021. We’re building a new website and we’re planning new content initiatives we look forward to sharing with readers soon. We’re excited about new ideas and our responsibility to a community we love.

When it comes to the truth, and the news you need to know, we’ve got your back, Stone County.

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