The Carrier’s editorial opinion represents the views of the senior members of the Campus Carrier and Viking Fusion news staff.
As Americans, we pride ourselves on our democratic form of government. We cling to deep-seated values of truth, justice and government for the people, by the people.
A well-informed public is key to democracy. Without one, democracy fails.
As Nelson Mandela once said, “An educated, enlightened and informed population is one of the surest ways of promoting the health of a democracy.”
However in this era of fake news and alternative facts, how are we supposed to be the “educated, enlightened” public that our democracy needs? How can the public elect leaders or vote on local policies without being informed?
Where you get your news is almost as important as whether or not you seek out the news. A 2015 Pew Research Center study revealed that 61 percent of millennials and 39 percent of Baby Boomers get their political news from Facebook.
If you only seek out your news on social media, you may only be reading stories that your friends are passionate about enough to share, or fake news from websites claiming to be legitimate.
It is important to be wary when getting your news from social media. Though the immediacy of Twitter and Facebook is appealing to many people, the complexities of the world we live in are difficult to sum up in 140 characters.
As college students, this is the time in our lives where our views will be constantly changing and tested. This is the time to stop getting your news from whatever biased articles your parents or friends are posting, to search out the truth on your own.
Though it can be easy to be tricked by fake news, the best way is to check with several, long-standing news organizations. Do not just get all of your news from the same place. Rather try to get as many viewpoints on politics, economics and ecological issues as you can. Exposing yourself to differently leaning sources could reaffirm your ideals and remind you why you believe in them, or they could open your mind to a new point-of-view you would not have considered before.
It is essential to be well informed, and not only around voting season. Keeping up with the state of the world is the small price to pay in order to be an active participant in it. We have no right to complain about our democracy if we do not use available resources to educate ourselves.
Even though jokes and sly comments about fake news and alternative facts can be amusing, they are insulting to our intelligence and our potential as a nation. We can do better than regurgitating information we read on our Facebook timeline. We can do better than saying we might as well not read the news at all because we do not know what is real and what is fake. We can do better than laughing about the diminishing reputation of the media.
In order to have a flourishing democracy, and a better nation overall, we need to actively seek out credible news sources. We need to encourage others to stay informed and to stop settling for spoon-fed articles that do not challenge or inform us in any way. Democracy can only function with an educated and vocal public. Do your part.