LETTER: Civil discourse lost in maze of social media

Words matter, at least they used to. “OMG” was the start of a prayer calling on God for guidance; now it’s an exclamation of surprise.

PR meant public relations, “the art or science of establishing and promoting a favorable relationship with the public.”

Then came spin, “to influence in a certain direction.”

Now we have outright propaganda, purposefully divisive “material disseminated by the advocates or opponents of a doctrine or cause” that requires keen insight and discernment on the part of every individual.

Unfortunately, in today’s fast-paced world of instant communication, responsible journalists, who take sufficient time and use due diligence to check facts with reliable sources and analyze background information before reporting the who, what, where, when and more especially the why, are ignored in favor of sound bites designed by a handful of monopolistic mass media outlets in fierce competition to grab our attention by raising our fear level, playing to our biases, thus inhibiting unbiased judgment, and ignoring our well-being.

Because we choose busyness over thoughtfulness, we erroneously equate propaganda with truth and leap to conclusions, placing our trust in a particular media outlet or personality because we “like” them for a variety of reasons that are based on mutual points of view, not on truth.

By broadcasting subjective opinions, not objective facts, on social media, we spread flawed conclusions, igniting divisiveness and ignoring the common humanity that once encouraged compassion and civil discourse.

We make “friends” of those who agree with us and block the dissenters.

Joy Beaver