Sunday, February 22, 2015

The “both sides” trap

How many times have you heard news organizations say they’re giving you “both sides” of a story? Or heard them introduce a second guest as “here to present the other side”? That’s good right? That’s fair and balanced. Wrong. It’s a trap.

It’s a trap because it leads you to believe that there are only two sides. There’s the side defined and forwarded by one major political party, and the side defined and promoted by the other major political party. That’s it. You are not to consider anything else, or if you do, it should at least be something between those two positions. Nothing outside is even worthy of entertaining.

This view serves the parties and their friends and financiers quite well. Everyone else…not so much. Not only are there just two sides to any given issue, according to most news outlets, the only issues worth discussing are those put forth by the two major parties. If you do bring up another issue, you should at least discuss it in the context of how it might affect each of the two parties. Nothing else matters.

It doesn’t really matter which party you choose. The defenders of the status quo are just as happy to have you love Party A and hate Party B as they are the reverse. As long as you conform to the two points of view system, the game still works.

How do you know if you’ve fallen into the trap? Do you discuss issues or parties?  When you argue politics are you talking about the proper role of government in a given situation, or are you talking about politicians? Are you able to have a discussion about politics and/or world events without invoking the words "liberal", "conservative" or referencing a political party or politician? When you post an idea or statement that you agree with does it tend to have a picture of a politician attached to it? Do you take headlines and hearsay as fact when they conform to the “our guys good, your guys bad” scenario or do you actually do objective research before repeating accusations and stereotypes?

If you find you have fallen into the trap, take heart. There is a cure. Think for yourself. It’s really that simple. Remember, nobody on this planet has any more an idea what the heck we’re all doing here than you do. The smartest, richest, most popular people on Earth are every bit as clueless as you are. Naturally they behave as if they're on a higher plane of enlightenment. That illusion keeps them fat and happy. You don’t need them to tell you how to be, who to be or what to think. Think and do for yourself, but not because I said so. You’ll have to get there on your own. 

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