To Mainstream Media: “It’s not you, it’s me.”

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Sofia Bertolotti, Contributing Writer

I am breaking up with mainstream media. 

I have a massive grievance against the media; in fact, it’s the main reason I’m calling it quits: they were never honest with me. Not only me, but everyone I’ve ever met has been led on by them. I’ve been so blindsided by their smoke and mirrors that I was never able to come to terms with why people are so one-sided with their political beliefs. But now, I understand. Now, I know better. 

Over the past three days, during the time in which I am writing this essay, the 2020 presidential election is occurring. This was not the essay you were originally supposed to read; however, this election has brought out an extreme passion that I didn’t know I had in me. 

For election coverage, I’ve been watching CNN. I watch it for the graphics and visuals they provide to keep up with the electoral map; however, I completely acknowledge their left-leaning bias. As I watch CNN, I see the headlines they display: “Trump complains that mail-in votes are being counted.” I chuckle a little, find it amusing, and yet I’m angry about it. Almost every opinionated statement from the reporters I agree with, yet I’m left with this ambivalent taste in my mouth. 

Then I switch to FOX news. I do this to see both sides of the story and see the major differences in reporting. As I’m listening to the reporters speak about voter fraud, I see a picture brought up that shows alleged ballots being thrown away. My ears perk up and I recall just a few hours prior when I fact-checked this very photo online. The photo was fake. How could a major news station miss this? Am I, a 17-year-old high school student, more reliable than a media outlet that racks in nearly 3.6 million viewers? 

I now completely understand why people are so misinformed. If I only watched one of these channels to get all my information, I would be completely blindsided to the truth. If I only watched CNN to get my news, I would never be able to understand conservative points of view. If I only watched FOX, I would never be able to understand or believe more liberal points of view. Why does this happen? Shouldn’t we be able to recognize these biases, and try to stay as informed as possible? We absolutely should, but I think I’ve figured out why the majority of us don’t. 

People don’t like to be uncomfortable. 

It’s human nature. It’s in our blood, in our genes, and in our ancestry. When someone challenges our beliefs and our way of life, it can feel afflicting, it can hurt, and we will do anything in our power to annihilate those feelings. Because of this, we as a society tend to reject truth. 

It’s basic history. If you go all the way back to the Renaissance period, during the Scientific Revolution, you can see evidence of this. People began to question the authority of the Catholic Church due to scientific explanation and that’s when the first major conflict between science and religion began. 

As I’ve watched the events of the election unfold, I’ve realized that this historical pattern has been extremely dominant in my own life. Growing up I never liked questioning the adults in my life, because it was just easier to remain indecisive than divisive. I hated confrontation until I started paying attention to politics when I began to find comfort in discomfort.

I asked my teachers questions like, “Why are we being forced to learn like this when it’s not benefiting me in the long run?” I used my voice to erase ignorance that lied in my family’s beliefs. I had a lot of uncomfortable conversations. I even lost some friends. And that very feeling I once feared the most, I started to crave. 

Now I am always striving to educate myself, to prepare for conversations like these. And I don’t do it to prove my intelligence or “win” a debate; I do it to help other people. I thrive to live in a world where knowledge is the solution to partisanship. If the millions of people in this world took just 2 minutes out of their day to fact-check what they’re being fed by the silver spoon at the hands of media corporations, we’d live in a much friendlier world. 

So, this is my final goodbye to mainstream media. They’ve taught me well, not by their reliability, but by their bias. After the election, I glared at my TV, into the eyes of the reporters, and said, “It’s not you, it’s me.” Because I’ve realized something. The media will most likely never change. They will always misinform and divide people. However, it’s what I can do that will make a difference. It’s my knowledge of their dishonesty that can help other people. And that’s what I plan on doing.