"I've heard some bad things about it...!"
For some reason, I have heard the above words expressed in recent weeks more times than I can count. Politics, religion, food, entertainment, consumer products, computer programs, diets -- you name the topic and I swear someone has heard something bad or negative about it. As hard as I try, I am unable to even come close in balancing the judgemental scales with the few times the words "I have heard some good things...!" were stated.
I can only conclude that the key word in all of this is "heard" (or unstated, "read") and how influenced we are by the media and people we come in contact with on a daily basis. It kind of tells us, too, a bit about the world in which we live.
In the last 50 years media influence has grown exponentially with the advance of technology. First there was the telegraph, then radio, the newspaper, magazines, television and now the Internet.
We live in a society that depends on information and communication to keep moving in the right direction and engage in our daily activities such as work, entertainment, health care, education, personal relationships, traveling and anything else that we have or care to do. The average person usually wakes up in the morning, checks the news on TV or in the newspaper, goes to work, makes a few phone calls, eats with their family when possible and makes decisions based on information received from co workers, the media, friends, family and, yes, overhearing the conversations of others.
What we need to be aware of is that most of our decisions, beliefs and values should be based on what we know for a fact. Our assumptions likewise, should come with first-hand experience. In our work we usually know what we have to do based on direction, experience and studies. In on our daily private lives we rely on the media to get the current news and facts about what is important and what we should be aware of. We also tend to place maybe too much stock in the dangerously biased opinions of others in our lives when coming to conclusions on the pros or cons of certain things.
I think that all too often we are quick to jump to conclusions, or assumptions, based on unbalanced reports that do not give both sides of the story. We need to have the benefit of not only the controversial bad, but the sometimes less spectacular good as well in weighing the true value of a particular service, product or issue. We need to ask more questions about the things in our lives, arrive at conclusions based on our own research and experience, demand more balanced reporting in our media, and take the opinions of family and friends under advisement.
Almost seems like too much work, doesn't it?...All this having to process and evaluate outside influences. If only we could afford the luxury of good faith in today's society -- and truth in advertising.