I love watching news channels. Just love watching them. And I have a method of watching news channels – I switch on the TV, watch 4-5 channels at a stretch, each for a minute or so. After that quick survey, I pick any two and spend 2-3 minutes on each. And then switch off. This is usually when am having dinner, which is usually around 10-10.30 pm.
I love browsing information on social media platforms. Just love browsing them. And I have a method of browsing – I scan 4 of them, each for a minute or so. After that quick survey, I usually spend 5 minutes on Twitter and then switch off. This I do thrice a day – morning, afternoon and evening.
I love reading newspapers. Just love reading them. I read (on app or online) Indian Express, Times of India, Hindustan Times, and The Guardian. I scan each to see the main headlines and then pick particular articles to read further when I take a break from work.
I do all this to gather information. And thanks to a flaw in my mental makeup, I do not pass (forward) any of the information that I gain from any of these sources. Nor do I use any one source to take decisions. Why? Well, mainly because reading and watching so many different sources of information, underlines one thing very clearly to me: there are many different perspectives and usually all these different media are taking different angles and selecting what they want to highlight or focus on- depending on their own mental makeup or what it is probably called editorial policy which in turn is usually based on a deeper foundation of the organisation’s world view.
If I compare it to an individual: people take decisions or communicate based on their own mental makeup which comes from the deeper values that trigger them, and the values come from a much deeper-seated cultural core that has evolved over centuries and has several influencers and driving factors.
As an example, all of us forward messages we receive, but all of us do not forward the same messages. Nor do we forward the same messages to all our groups and networks. We individually select news, views, and entertainment that affects us and then we further filter what to send to which group or person on our network. If one analyses messages we have forwarded or shared, even on a single day, we would find a pattern of what we are communicating. The most easily recognisable but not easily apparent pattern is that of fears. If we are driven by fear, we are likely to select any news that highlights a possible threat to ourselves and our family. If we are driven by optimism, we are likely to to select any news that aligns to that and ignore most that are not aligned to a brighter world. And that’s what we forward since we are looking for validation of that perception and then we find ourselves engaged with others who share that fear-trigger and perception. By a meticulous but often sub-conscious process, we weed out people who do not share our deeper values – and this becomes most evident in times of adversity.
I have triggers as anyone else. But the flaw in my makeup is that I can’t forward anything till I have some certainty about the facts and some belief that the views are balanced.
But in times of crisis, there is one source of information that I follow diligently: government. This is because it is a matter of legal responsibility and I have a firm belief that in a democratically elected government scenario, all governments have the best interest of the collective nation at their heart and a crisis is not the time for an average citizen like me with little or no knowledge about how a nation is run, to question and hamper implementation of safety and security measures.
Thus, in the current situation, for accurate and authentic information, I follow only the following sources in that order:
1. Government of India
2. Government of Maharashtra
3. Pune District Collector
4. World Health Organisation
5. World Economic Forum
And, after several months of studying so many media channels, the following are what I trust to provide what I consider to be balanced opinions, explanations and perspectives derived from an acceptable plurality of viewpoints:
1. Shekhar Gupta’s Cut The Clutter on The Print channel on YouTube
2. The Indian Express
3. Farzan Mustafa’s Legal Awareness Web series on YouTube
Good Morning World. It’s a tough time in the world right now and I am making it a point to remind myself that this is not the time to have my say, every hour, every day, on all and any matters.