I am lucky. I was born to a white middle-class family in a wealthy country. Education was readily available to me without excessive cost. I have been supported to live my dreams.
These and many more privileges have allowed me to become rich and a dollar millionaire by 37.
But not everyone has been so fortunate.
Capitalism can be good
I am very happy to extoll the benefits of capitalism, easily a much better system than the feudalism that preceded it. It encourages people to try their best, contribute and work hard, which are all good things. But on the other hand, it fails to protect people from predatory individuals and those who through no fault of their own are not able to contribute. Moreover, capitalism is also susceptible to a tremendous amount of bias. And class mobility is not significantly better than feudalism.
But alas it needs controls and a safety net
As you may expect, there are some serious limitations with a system that rewards the individual at the expense of all others. Hence we need to curb the worst of capitalism in order to prevent exploitation and protect consumers.
Most people agree that a welfare safety net is also beneficial to all. And that the principle of helping out those less fortunate is the right thing to do. However, opinions differ on the amount of the safety net and method of implementation.
In most developed countries, the government provides these functions. We have a welfare state and laws that are agreed and decided upon by the government.
And the media policies them
It’s not said often enough, but journalists are ace. An underrespected profession, that aims to bring you the facts in the news as well as additional opinion pieces. Moreover, as well as passing on press releases, the media adds additional details, context and highlights inconsistencies. They press the government and organisations for details and report back.
Trusting the media?
While it’s well known the news media is partisan, by consuming a variety of sources you can get the full picture. Most mainstream outlets always publish facts but achieve their slant by selective inclusion of said facts and layering on opinion on top. As they say, you can misuse all statistics to give the outcome you desire – and the same is true of the news.
But in my opinion, that doesn’t mean we should distrust the media. They have a vital role in holding organisations and governments everywhere to account. The news media will act on tips offs and investigate potential issues and concerns, providing a vital public service. Not many people have the resources to perform that level of investigation independently – and the media helps to get issues that impact all sorts of people noticed.
Cultural Expectations are Changing
Society is always progressing in a developed nation. We are learning more about people and the world, and instigate changes to improve the world. What was considered the norm in the Victorian era is now considered inappropriate. We don’t send children up chimneys any more or have them working in mills.
Some changes are easy to adapt to and need no government intervention, such as the move to smartphones. Others need government legislation passed, such as giving women and poor men the right to vote.
Bias Abounds Everywhere
The world is built on bias. We all are socialised to have biases. It’s part of our upbringing and culture. We are taught to differentiate people and put people into different categories – good people and bad people – and lots of these internal rules are based on biases.
Now as society progresses, are we challenging these biases enough? I’d state no. It’s frankly shocking that black boys born in the inner city are more likely to go to jail than a university. How is that fair? Not to mention the met policies stop and search results which show I’m very unlikely to be stopped and searched.
As I am now rich and very comfortable, I could avoid all the news in the world and the current affairs. Due to my wealth, education and flexibility, it is unlikely any changes in the world would impact me personally that much. I am adaptable and can easily adapt to change.
But others can’t. And they are in less fortunate positions than me – and they have to focus on their core needs. They are using all their energy to keep going in this hard world, as life is much harder for them.
I feel I need to stand up. Some people are not being treated fairly, and I have a voice. Moreover, I intend to use that voice. I like to stay informed and regularly make my views know. I email my MP all the time and happily sign petitions that I believe in.
There needs to be more people willing to stand up and challenges these everyday bias – such as racism and the patriarchy. And I’ve not even started mentioning all the other biases that abound in our society.
Hence I consume news
I want to be connected with my fellow humans. I want to know both the progress we are making in the world alongside the terrible things that humans are doing to each other. Current affairs matters to me – they are the human side of the world.
And I need the media to provide me with the information from the news – I cannot source all that information myself. I read carefully and critically, noting potential biases and slants. I will happily make up my own opinion and gather more details on topics that interest me.
Finally – social media gives us new tools to use to share our opinions and solicit feedback. Used wisely, I feel social media is a great tool for connecting with people and learning about the world outside your echo chamber. As with all tool, there are downsides that you also need to take into account.
Against the Ostrich approach
You could stick your head in the sand. And just not care about current affairs – such as the Tim Ferriss Low Information Diet. There is no doubt that makes you a more productive person, but does it make you a better person?
I’d argue that as a lucky privileged person you should care. It’s not about you personally, but about the others that are less fortunate. After all, we all have to live together in society.
So, what sort of society do you want that to be?
Over to you
- What are your thoughts?
- Do you read the news?
- Why do you consume the news?