By Iman Ahsan
Everyone has the right to their own views and their own beliefs. Everyone is allowed to have an opinion on a certain matter. There’s no right or wrong in what you hold an opinion over because opinions are judgements made on certain matters, but they’re not always based on facts or knowledge. While there’s nothing wrong with holding your own specific views, there is a huge issue with arguing why your opinion is valid and why someone else’s opinion isn’t.
There’s your opinion, and then there’s the facts.
The difference between opinions and facts is that opinions can be disagreed with and countered, whereas facts cannot. One may argue that apples are the worst abomination to ever cross mankind, but it’s scientifically proven that apples are incredibly good for your health. You can easily disagree with someone calling apples an abomination, but you cannot disagree with apples being healthy for you because various scientific research has been done on apples to conclude that apples can lower the risk of numerous major diseases like diabetes and cancer. However, in this day and age, we tend to believe that only our opinions matter and everything else, including facts, does not. Our society is gradually becoming more and more divided through this misbelief in opinions being the truth.
In modern society, people can spread the news through various social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. While it’s good to stay informed about the current events in the world, it’s terrible to rely on social media as your “go-to” news outlet. The issue with following social media news is that the news you find on social media is generally biased and geared towards a specific view. However, it’s not just social media news that’s an issue. It’s also popular news platforms like CNN and Fox News that are huge issues in our society.
The original purpose of journalism was to simply report the news and let the people formulate their own thoughts and opinions on that matter. Now, journalists will report the news through biased language. The usage of biased language in the news pushes people into a “sheep-herd mentality” and prevents them from formulating their own thoughts and views because if they disagree with the anchor’s reporting of the news, then they’ll be singled out as a “black sheep”. Journalism now decides for us, and we’re expected to follow their way of thinking.
Anyone following the news this week knows about Kyle Rittenhouse, an 18-year-old who fatally shot two people during a protest last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin, being acquitted of all charges. People on Twitter were outraged by this and took to the platform to vent about him being acquitted. However, the majority of people argued that the main reason why he was voted not guilty was because of his race. A handful of the users on Twitter were quick to vocalize their displeasure at the verdict, some even went so far as to say that he got away because he is white and the victims were black. This is a huge misinformation because in this case, the three victims were all white. However, the race of the victim or the offender should never be a topic of discussion in any society because the law does not have any mention of the color of one’s skin when it comes down to justice. In reality, we do see numerous cases where race has played a huge role in determining one’s guilt or innocence in both the courtroom and in our living rooms.
This misinformation on social media tells us that people do not look into the cases completely; they just gloss over the case and only read the headlines. Unfortunately, this is a common trend in our society. You wouldn’t believe your friend at first if they told you that they just had dinner with Kenny G and Joe Satriani unless they had pictures, so why do we believe everything that we read on the internet or hear on cable news without asking some questions.
In no way is this article supporting Kyle Rittenhouse. The mere mention of his name was done to stress the grave misinformation being spread about him on the internet. One side is calling him a “hero” while the other side is calling him a “cold-blooded killer”. Both of these are opinions, yet, people are trying to present their opinion as a “fact”, when in reality, it was proven that Rittenhouse had fired at Joseph Rosenbaum after being chased across the parking lot, and Rittenhouse had also fired at Anthony Huber after Huber leaped at him and tried to swing his skateboard at Rittenhouse’s head and neck. These fatal shootings can be argued as self-defense. However, there’s nothing “heroic” about Rittenhouse either. Rittenhouse stated that he was trying to protect the downtown businesses from looters and vandals by showing up with a semi-automatic rifle, but no one truly knows what was his motive and what was going on in his mind at the time of the protest. He wasn’t from Wisconsin, so he had no reason to be there in the first place, so the question is, why was he there in the first place? Especially with a fatal weapon? No one can prove whether Rittenhouse is a “hero” or a “cold-blooded killer.”
At Rittenhouse’s trial, survivor Gaige Grosskreutz testified that Rittenhouse had fired at him after he pointed his gun at Rittenhouse, who was on the ground with his rifle pointed up at Grosskreutz. Grosskreutz had deliberately chased after Rittenhouse, pointed his gun at him, and attempted to advance onto him until Rittenhouse shot at him. YouTube channel NBC Chicago uploaded Grosskreutz’s testimony, labelling it as the “Full Testimony”. The length of the video is 1:37:11, but despite labelling the video as the full testimony, NBC Chicago has been called
out for not providing the complete testimony. The video uploaded by NBC Chicago did not include the cross examination in which Grosskreutz admitted to chasing and advancing onto the defendant with his gun pointed at him. This is pure propaganda and incredibly misinforming to the viewers.
The sole purpose of the news is to report the facts, never should they include their own views/opinions in it. That defeats the entire purpose of the news because the news isn’t meant to be entertainment. It’s there to inform people about the current events of the world and to provide them with the correct information. It’s clear that NBC Chicago deliberately cut out the cross examination of the testimony because it didn’t fit their agenda. When news outlets are purposely cutting out important pieces of information because it doesn’t fit their narrative, it shows that each news outlet has their own agenda and that they want their viewers to think a certain way. By presenting edited footage from the courtroom, viewers aren’t getting the full story. This shows that no news outlet can truly be trusted or relied on. Each news outlet will present their version of a certain matter to its audience, and this is what leads to the further division of our nation.
News outlets like CNN present more liberal, democratic views in order to cater towards the liberal audience, whereas outlets like Fox News present more conservative, republican views in order to cater towards the conservative audience. Neither news outlet gives the full story because they both have their own narrative, and this propaganda is what leads to such a heavily divided group of people. We live in a day and age where the news is no longer telling us the truth but rather telling us what to think. The more divided our country becomes, the more problems and unrest will arise from both sides.
Instead of basing your judgement off of a Twitter post (which is already highly opinionated), it’s good to look into both sides of an argument and formulate your judgement from there. Don’t read one side of the story and think that’s all there is to it. A handful of the “self-employed news reporters” on social media report the news using biased language, and they only report one side of the story, mainly because a handful of these people feel strongly about a certain party and refuse to acknowledge the opposing argument because they believe they’re in the “right”. Oftentimes, these social media reports lack various crucial details (usually because the details go directly against the narrative the poster has), and it ends up spreading even more misinformation across the social media platform.
Opinions should always be kept separate from facts. Everyone has the right to hold an opinion over something, but that doesn’t mean their opinion is “correct” or the “truth”. If we start incorporating our own views into facts/evidence, we’re going to end up creating an entire generation of misinformed people. Not everyone has to agree with each other, but we should all be able to coexist and not get into heated arguments just because one side believes they’re right and the other side is wrong.
There are always two sides to the story, and to deliberately ignore/refuse to acknowledge the other side of the story because it goes against our personal views just shows the immaturity and ignorance we possess as people. To combat living in blissful ignorance, we mustn’t solely rely on a single site or platform for news; we must push ourselves to do further research and look into both sides of the story.