The Age of Information is rife with promise for global enlightenment. There are enough free tutorials, language courses, books, lectures, and documentaries to last a million lifetimes, and a motivated individual can learn as much, or more, about a given niche with a wifi connection as in a top-flight university. We live in the most high-velocity period of human adaptation and change so far, and unprecedented period of fundamental alteration. It’s a cool time to be alive.
The addition of nearly every human voice to this collective shout brought with it some interesting notions. The concept that everyone could become a form of ‘expert’, that we had ears to the ground everywhere in the world, is a romantic one. But this idea has lately come in to competition with a basic tenet of human kind: roughly one out of four people in the world, or 25%, are complete and utter fuckwits. They have zero concept of rational argument, they aren’t intelligent enough to realise that some concepts aren’t black-and-white, and when notions go over their heads? They dig in even further to their impossible position, invoking every form of nebulous evidence under the sun to back them up, or claim ever-more absurd forms of prejudice as the ‘real’ reason their point of view hasn’t been wholeheartedly adopted.
Let’s take the anti-vaxxers. These group of fine, civic-minded individuals would rather choose to believe in a global conspiracy to infect their children with some manner of mind-control. Wiping out a number of deadly diseases is only a side effect. These notions, which ordinarily would only be directed at commuters from the pulpit of a cardboard box, now can be proven and confirmed with a basic web search. People can confirm any crackpot notion this way. We haven’t yet evolved to question the supposed knowledge that we find online. If it’s got a URL, it must be true. Confirmation bias is a real problem in today’s world, but the inflexible mindset of idiots is the cause of it.
And this is the problem: the mainstream media has lost any form of legitimacy. In places, this has been well-deserved, and has been derived from a more informed look in to who is being paid. They are big businesses, after all, and the elite will often have their hands in a number of pies. But the simple fact is, they have something to lose with shit writing and a lack of fact checking. They can be taken to task. They have a history to protect, unlike the blogger who can cut and run.
I see, in the future, a step back towards reporting under the edifice of an agency with a taste for ideals. The individual will now require a history, and qualifications, before he can be broadly accepted. Think Bellingcat, or early Salon-era Greenwald (before they turned clickbait).
Perhaps a rating agency? A Moodys of the writing and journalism world, who’s job it is to vet the supposed ‘proof’ of a journalist, before they can be taken as gospel. A mark of legitimacy. Such a thing should never ask that the writer, necessarily, be revealed. Such a notion would destroy part of the reasoning behind the gift of a truly anonymous, far-reaching news landscape: the notion of keeping people honest. But it might begin to clear up the rubble.