America’s addiction to information is currently being abused by various news outlets releasing whatever they can just for the sake of having something to say. When news gets spread just a few moments after a certain event happens, it’s not really “news” just yet because the steps to confirm the validity of the facts behind what has happened have not yet been taken.
There is information but it has not been confirmed, dissected, understood. What we have are rumors, and the need to send as much information as possible to as many people as possible in as little time as possible has ruptured the fine line between what separates the news and dirty old gossip.
Facts are usually what distinguish rumors from actual news. But now, the news reports don’t even have to include any facts. Nothing has to be known, nothing has to be put into perspective because we want information so badly in this country that we’ll substitute rumors for news by stating them as if they were composed of facts and not just reports.
It has become acceptable for American news sources to report rumors even if there are no facts or truth behind them. But this isn’t the news sources’ fault. It’s just their last-ditch attempt to maintain the pace of the endless flow of information the American people expect to continuously flood into their homes each day.
Remember that horse meat scandal Taco Bell got caught up in not too long ago? Well, when you consider the size of the American population and the demand for tacos, it’s not really fair to blame Taco Bell for not being able to put genuine, fresh meat into every single one of the millions of tacos they make every day.
They ran out of cow meat because there aren’t enough cows in the world to produce the meat needed to satisfy the American demand for tacos. That’s why Taco Bell probably sent out some sort of mass message to the rest of the planet, desperately begging for anything they could use to keep their taco-making cycle afloat and not let their overflow of customers walk away empty handed.
So because they had to keep up their mass production of tacos and give the American people what they wanted, it should make sense that some of their products weren’t exactly made with care.
This is precisely what is happening with America’s crowded cluster of news outlets. Rumors are not made with care and are so useless that they can be retracted or forgotten just as fast as they were spit out.
It was reported that an Elvis impersonator named Paul Kevin Curtis tried to kill the President of the United States with a letter filled with poison. Not true.
It was reported that Ryan Lanza, not his brother Adam, killed 26 people in the massacres in Newtown, Connecticut. Not true.
It was also reported that a random white kid running through the crowd immediately after the bombings at the Boston Marathon was most likely responsible for the explosions he was trying to escape. Not true.
All of these reports were retracted even though for the moments that they were circulating the televisions and computers of millions of people, they were the facts. They were presented with sincerity and in high volume, broadcasted like vital information to anybody who wishes to stay informed.
But they were rumors, without evidence, analysis or validity.
They were spread throughout the world because the American people need answers and they need them as soon as possible. If these answers aren’t true, at least everyone’s void for information was occupied for the time being. Think of how many times you’ve read a news report that ended with something along the lines of “how/why so-and-so happened is unconfirmed.”
We’re not saying that this statement should give you the notion that the entirety of what you’ve just read wasn’t true. We’re just saying that once that question is answered, the premise for the report could change completely. If it weren’t for the uncontrollable, insatiable American thirst for information, stories wouldn’t even be released without the necessary amount of authentic evidence and confirmation to prove that they are true.
Rumors are necessary for uncovering mysteries, but that does not mean they should be presented to the public as if they were the truth. Not only does this greatly decrease the credibility of various respectable news sources, but it also makes it increasingly harder for us to piece together the facts and understand what actually might have happened.
The best example would have to be the way various news sources reported the standoffs the Tsarnaev brothers had with the police up until the capture of younger brother Dzhokhar.
They stole a car. Wait, no they stole two cars. They let one guy go. Scratch that, there was another guy in the car who police strip searched after Dzhokhar escaped the gun battle on foot. Or maybe he drove away. Then why didn’t they chase after him? We still don’t know the answer to that question along with what actually went down that night.
We don’t know because rather than piecing together what happened and presenting what went down step by step, news sources just spat out whatever information they could find and this resulted in a jumbled up story that just didn’t make any sense. Reports were presented to us that lacked logic, answers or most importantly, factual information.
And as far as we’re concerned, it’s okay. It’s okay because we needed to know what was going on and we couldn’t wait any longer. We need to learn to wait and news sources need to learn how to let us know when something they are presenting might or might not be true. If the facts don’t add up, let us know.
If it’s just a rumor, let us know. Those who get paid to tell us what happened should only give us the whole story. It’s okay if all you’ve got are clues, but at least just let us know it’s all you’ve got. It’s not like we’re going to stop giving you our attention. That’s the way addiction works, remember?
Sean Levinson | Elite.