Keep facts and opinions clearly defined

It seems like the more complicated the world gets, the more blurred the lines between facts and opinions are becoming.I remember when Obama’s Health Care Reform plans were first brought to public attention. Seeing as changes to health care would greatly affect my life, I wanted to know exactly what was included in that reform. I spent hours online looking for facts. Every link said news but led me to an editorial.

This is an issue I see again and again in television, internet, radio and one-on-one conversations. At some point we as a culture forgot about the difference between news and our opinions of the news.

In today’s world, it’s understandable. We live in an age of instant and plentiful information. Want to know what the weather’s like in Dublin? Look it up on your phone. Want to know what Conan O’Brien is thinking about? Log onto Twitter. We’re being bombarded with so much information that we’re having trouble breaking it into categories.

When we stop analyzing new information, we open the doors to confusion and misunderstandings. One of the largest dangers posed is the assumption that what you are reading is news. If you watch Glenn Beck talk about abortion and someone else watches the same subject being discussed by Rachel Maddow, then the two of you will have seen completely different accounts of the same topic.

I’m not saying that either of these shows are wrong. They should be seen for what they are: news commentaries. Just as The Oracle has different sections for news and editorials, other information outlets (ideally) have a separation of fact and opinion.

However, it can be hard for even the most diligent current events buff to know what the facts are. It’s no secret that many main news programs have become slanted. It’s sad to think that even if something has the word news in the title, we still have to fact check what they say.

I myself usually get my news about the United States from BBC, just so there will be less of a chance that stories will slant based on American political affiliations.

In most cases, these news programs aren’t lying. They simply pick and choose what is said and what is left out. This can lead to a lot of one sided reports. It is a disservice to the public when we are denied the full circumstances of a story.

We put our trust into these programs. If you like what you hear why bother looking into the other side of the issue? This is a frequent response to conflicting opinions between conservatives and liberals. There is so much hatred built up between the extreme right and left, it’s hardly encouraging for a conservative to read a liberal’s opinion (or vice versa) if half of it is name calling.

Why would you want to read something meant to insult you? At one time or another, we’ve all been guilty of this sense of rivalry. I lean different ways on different issues, several of which I am very passionate about. Sometimes, I become so passionate about my opinion that I momentarily forget that it is just that: my opinion.

Passion about issues and debate are not bad things. They are part of what makes our society great. But we need to step back and review the facts.

Don’t edit the facts to fit your opinions. Instead, let’s base our opinions on the facts.