So the global pandemic has raged on for two years now with talk of daily death rates at first followed by daily infection rates, both were met with skepticism regarding the validity of the statistics, and then came the talk about masks and why we should wear them, then came discussions about the competency of our leaders, following this came discussions (heavily political ones) about vaccines and treatments, in many ways alongside a pandemic caused by a viral infection, this was (and indeed is) a pandemic of political polarization and mistrust in authority figures, a pandemic of agendas and emotions run riot, a pandemic of hostility and conflict, let’s explore this and look at potential road this has and could continue to lead us down
The pandemic of politics and misinformation
Let’s look at something that happened in one of the later stages of the pandemic, in September 2021 Joe Rogan the incredibly popular podcaster had contracted Covid 19 but instead of opting for either of the two vaccines AstraZeneca and Pfizer, Joe had opted for the drug Ivermectin after speaking to well-informed academics and seeing positive results for others who had opted to take this drug. However, the mainstream media ran rampant and spoke of how irresponsible Rogan was for taking a “horse dewormer” failing to mention this was only a single function of the drug, and that it had an immense effect on treating Covid 19, and that the person who had created it (Satoshi Omura) had won a Nobel prize for doing so, in fact, on social media many people on the left were condemning Rogan for taking Ivermectin Talking about how it wouldn’t work, with several spectators pointing out that it seemed as if this had become a case of people hoping Ivermectin wouldn’t work just so that there point could be proven right, that this had become less about health and more about politics and being right. This Is a common theme during the pandemic where the discussion moves away from health and becomes about judging and “us vs them” mentality.
Social trust and skepticism
In this day and age with the amount of information and voices out there, people have become a lot more clued in to what to trust, with voices like Rogan himself becoming deemed more trustworthy than mainstream media, people through sources like his and other podcasts where they have access to academics, to trustworthy and (largely) agenda-free sources people have become clued in to tactics like fear-mongering and sensationalism, people understand now more than ever that news misinformation is rife in the modern-day. A recent example of this was seen particularly on the Joe Rogan podcast with CNN doctor Sanjay Gupta where Joe Rogan says and I quote “if they’re lying about a comedian taking horse medicine, what are they saying about Russia? What are they saying about Syria?” Russel Brand comedian and journalist had this to say on CNN’s covering of Ivermectin; “the fact they are highlighting promoting and amplifying a derogatory and pejorative aspect of that drugs function is an editorial stance, you can then take what you know here and see how it applies elsewhere” In other words CNN deciding to particularly highlight one use of ivermectin, the use that best fits their narrative and agenda they have on Joe Rogan and Covid 19 coverage, and this was a deliberate and conscious decision, where else could they be making these decisions in how they distill news? In fact, according to Gallup Americans’ trust in media dipped to 36% of Americans trusting it. This is the second-lowest on record.
Increase in long-form Journalism
While the source states “trust in the media” one can infer this is meant as the mainstream news media. In my opinion, this is a good thing as news misinformation is rife. With this growing skepticism which is thanks to channels like Brands and Rogans, I can see people seeking out long-form content more and more such as podcasts, and books, and long-form articles, long-form content is rightfully seen as more trustworthy due to the amount of time, effort, and research, that goes into making it, with sources being cited throughout or at the bottom long-form content shows you the relevance of a story, if an article takes two minutes to read or a video takes two minutes to watch, it gives the sense of immediate but fleeting importance, however, if one takes weeks to write or hours to watch, not only is it a sign of the relevance of the content but it allows for more developments in the situation while the work is being written. For example, if I wrote an article on a big global news story and was given a week I may miss some big developments in the story. However, given a month one of two things could happen, I’d be able to get a much better article out there, or I’d scrap it because the story is no longer a story.
My vision for the future
This is one of the best developments that can come from this pandemic in my opinion, people being wearier and more attentive when it comes to the information they consume are more likely to be questioning and scrutinizing what they read. I would surmise that this general skepticism will apply to many other areas rather than just with the Virus, with people becoming more questioning of their leaders, policies, and things that they learn the upside? people will become less certain. The downside? People will become less certain, hear me out, skepticism is brilliant, as Socrates said, “All I know is that I know nothing” but is there such a thing as too much skepticism? To the point, a person may be so distrusting of the news that they believe nothing reported, and because of said mistrust don’t seek out alternatives as they mistrust said alternatives, it can lead to more conflict with each other and a lack of security, such as when mall customers started to run when a man slammed his skateboard believing it to be a gunshot.
However, I am cautiously optimistic that the virus will lead to a generally good brand of skepticism where people question their beliefs more frequently, here’s to you questioning this article.