By Madison Heiser
We witness censorship in the media, in some form, every day of our lives. Scenes of violence and vulgar language are blurred from view in online articles, television and popular social media websites. However, perhaps the most dangerous type of censorship has grasped the bulk of American society in the modern age: the omission of truth via political media outlets. Such omission serves to fuel the phenomena of political polarization and the adoption of a “mob mentality” on various sides of the political spectrum.
The definition of censorship itself has evolved from the practice of protecting consumers from vulgarity to effectively herding those same consumers into specified areas of political opinion. Media outlets are aware that we, as consumers, normally choose to avoid those opinions and clips of information that tend to make us uncomfortable — a fact which they use to their advantage.
Recently, both liberal and conservative news platforms have become increasingly more polarized, intentionally misleading viewers to adopt a belief or set of beliefs that align with their own, sometimes to the extent of radicalism. Though this practice of spreading propaganda has existed as long as any form of government, modern forms of media have made it easier for biased outlets to access a consumer base — in this instance, the politically involved American public.
Additionally, targeted advertisements and paid promotions have allowed propaganda to seep into the eyeline of the public in a less blatant manner meaning citizens see these advertisements every hour, scrolling through social media, commuting to their jobs and getting their fix of “reality” television. A wise high school government teacher once taught a classroom full of today’s budding political activists, “if you are not buying something, you are the product.”
Here is where we turn our attention toward the product itself: the public. Once we become accustomed to feeding off of a certain variation of political bias, we become less inclined to adopt a unique perspective toward the issue at hand. We become so used to being “bought,” made comfortable within our one-sided, rose-colored world view, the simple notion of an alternative perspective makes us uncomfortable, angry, even. Biased media has become the fast food in a society where cooking up the truth has become too much work. Therefore, even the most misleading information is accepted as truth without the slightest form of investigation. Though, in part, the media is to blame for the rise and significance of political polarization, it is the duty of responsible, politically educated consumers to seek out the truth, the facts, themselves.
In today’s society, it has become a virtue to rely more on oneself and individual research than to immediately trust those outlets who have made you into a product to be purchased. More and more Americans have come to sell their autonomy in exchange for convenience.
The unfiltered, untwisted truth has come to be defined as provocation. Now is the time for us, as American citizens on the brink of another presidential election, to be introspective and to ask ourselves, why does the truth make us uncomfortable? When will we remove our collective blindfold, separate the reliable from unreliable, and refuse to be bought? To shed light on the untainted truth is the first step to inciting change in a modern America, a nation now fraught with violence, propaganda and unwavering division. It is the responsibility of all generations to advocate for political awareness and restore a sense of unity and trust among American citizens.