Being skeptical

It is important that we question what we read to formulate our own opinions

Being skeptical

Keshav Taneja, Staff Writer

As important as it is to read and be caught up with the news, it is equally important to not be immediately swayed by what we are reading. Understand this: nearly every media outlet has an agenda, whether to promote their brand or promote a certain political affiliation — there’s nothing wrong with that. They have to get people to keep reading their content somehow. But it’s hard to form an opinion, when a neat, organized article with captivating vocabulary is essentially giving you less of a reason to think about the situation on your own.

I remember the first time I actually read the news. I was not expecting to enjoy it at first, but after reading it for a while, for some reason, I just felt smarter. It was not because I retained new information, but because this new information promoted an opinion that I could call my own.

But this opinion was not mine and it took me time to realize that. What’s perhaps more unfortunate is that I’ve noticed my peers and my classmates experiencing the same phenomenon, where they rely on the information they read to feed them an opinion.

Our inability to formulate our own opinions also stems from the fact that a lot of people only read news that is affiliated with their own political stance. There is no doubt that those articles will appeal to you because it aligns with your beliefs. But if we were to perhaps make the effort to read arguments that “the other side” may offer, we can formulate our own, more informed individual opinions.

Social media is the same deal. Facebook gives an interesting headline and we immediately go to the comments and read what other people have to say. One of the comments sounds convincing and it automatically becomes our opinion. It is not easy to get out of this cycle. Reading these comments makes things so much easier and we can pretend we know about something without even reading the article itself.

Understanding this issue is important for the future of the country so that everyone knows what they truly believe. Reading a conservative newspaper introduces people to conservative beliefs and debunks stereotypes that one might have heard on the other side. It can make a liberal more conservative and vice versa which brings light to the fact that your political affiliation is not binary. Ultimately, the media has an agenda but it still offers valuable information. Internalize this information and make your opinion without reading comments or caring about others’ thoughts.

Whether reading headlines or comments, we need to remain skeptical of what we read. Here are some things the media does to influence our opinions: it can exaggerate the story, use emotion to make us feel guilty and gradually publish an article until all the information we retain aligns with their opinion.

We should stay cognizant of these things and remain skeptical so we can formulate our own opinions on issues, whether political, scientific or related to any other controversy.