“Never let facts get in the way of a good story.”
(There is disagreement on who first coined that phrase, which makes my point here entirely.)
News media of all kind adhere to this “good story” theory of presenting news events dramatically because it draws viewership, which for them in turn means more money.
“Facts are facts,” …is another worn-out, too-often-used phrase. But the problem with it is that those “facts” are interpreted by individuals just like all of us, who naturally have biased perspectives, and who sometimes have ulterior motives for proclaiming something as a “fact,” when it comes closer to simply being an opinion.
In essence, we are ALL this way to some degree—ALL biased and plagued by our own motives for just about everything we say and do. It is an aspect of the human condition. That’s how we learned to make sense of our lives and our world. We tended to believe that which substantiated our already determined view of the world around us, and discarded that which didn’t.
Even now, we may tend to see the world the way that we wish to see it, and believe it to be the way that we wish to believe that it is. Another person standing right beside us viewing the same “event” may not share our interpretation of what just happened or who was at fault during any serious incident witnessed by many.
Being the “unaffected observer” to life’s dramas is a rare stance to maintain; and it is not easily accomplished because of that natural human variance in perception and interpretation of what is occurring 24/7/365 to us personally, as well as all around us.
Our world is a collection of perpetual, individual interpretations of what is actually occurring at any given moment because people tend to see what they WANT to see, and to believe what they WANT to believe.
For every “witness” of ANY event, both good and bad, there will be personal motives involved in that “fact” interpretation—often motives that make us or our friends look more favorable in the story; and for all others, especially those who opposed us, to appear less favorable.
Whether this feels true or not to you, this is how most of us handle our world view. We tend to tell a story that makes us seem more acceptable to those whose opinions that we value. Sometimes we may unconsciously “alter” our story to make ourselves appear more favorable in the eyes of those whose opinions matter the most to us. What may have actually happened in any actual encounter will often be left unknown because of that human tendency.
So how do we as the audience to so many varied “event interpretations” make sense of what we see and hear on the media—which itself is a highly selective interpretation of events?
Unfortunately, it often comes down to the very same biases that might have plagued the witnesses of the original event: We see and hear the accounts of what we WANT to see and hear, and discard the rest as untruths.
We believe what we want to believe, because accepting something counter to our long-held belief system can radically disrupt our internal stability. It can shake us to our core. And that is not a pleasant thing to experience, so we strongly avoid it.
The proof has to be irrefutable for us to alter our internal beliefs about something important to us; and irrefutable proof is rare. It’s a bit like refuting the existence of Santa Claus on a grand scale: On some level of consciousness, who doesn’t want to believe a very stout guy in a bright red suit with reindeer on the side delivers presents to children all over the world on one short night?
Is it likely that this really occurs? But when you were a young, impressionable child, did you want to believe that it did? How did it make you feel when you first discovered that the “Santa Story” was a hoax, even though a well-meaning one?
That’s the power of personal beliefs: We tend to believe what we want to believe and discard any evidence proving the contrary. The truth of any event may exist on some level of awareness, but that doesn’t mean that we will ever know it, or even WANT to know it.
Truth may be truth, but how we perceive or receive that truth, is quite varied.