Technology and the “democratization” of information

So technology. Well, I came of age when technology for me was the typewriter. I got my first typewriter as a graduation present from my father. I desperately wanted an electric one, which was a relatively new technology back then, but of course, he handed me a beautifully designed manual. He argued that the action of the key strokes, the fact that you had to work hard just to push down the keys to create the imprint of each letter, would connect me more deeply to the written word. Well, I don’t know if having a manual typewriter made me a better writer but it did leave me with a strong connection to the keys. I still pound each stroke, each letter, into submission. The actions of my fingers used to lead me directly to the outcome I wanted. Today, this is not the case. I open Facebook to see what’s trending, do I really need to see what everyone had for dinner last night? I begin a search for a story on climate change and a sleeping bag I looked at and didn’t even buy two years ago pops up. During CWE online appointments, MSU students send me links to articles about, let’s say, social justice and it’s covered with pop-up adds about dating sites I can’t even skip. Advertisements are passed off as news and blogs and websites that espouse everything from terrorist hate messages to beauty tips are legitimized by advertising support. Who exactly is in charge here? Don’t get me wrong, getting quick access to information, particularly obscure information, that used to take me weeks, is a powerful tool. With a couple of clicks you can scour the world for news and information. Yet, this open access has created the “democratization” of information, a place where facts are often held hostage and don’t appear as themselves. Often, they are not necessarily themselves “fake,” but they are surrounded by content that is biased and at times false. So as great as technology is and as liberating as having access to all this information is, I find that when I write, I am more skeptical of every story and fact I see and have to work harder to find the real truth.

 

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