Sharing Responsibly

But is it real evil, or contrived evil?
But is it real evil, or contrived evil?

The above cartoon can have multiple meanings.

The cartoon could represent responsible reporting. The public and the media expose what people are doing wrong, so that we might correct the mistakes in our society. When criminals of all kinds, from murderers to bankers, hurt the people around them, we let everyone know. This helps people understand what behaviour is wrong, and roots out the people that the justice system may have overlooked.

What if the monkeys represent irresponsible reporting? What if it means that we’re simply making EVERYTHING evil, because that’s what sells? What if we’ve completely lost sight of what we’re doing and why? What if we’re making evil up, just to build up blog followers and sell ad space?

As you can see in this great essay by Selena Kitt regarding the 2013 with hunt over erotica, gossips and sensationalism run rampant. And our irresponsible, selfish behaviour hurts other people. The act of fabricating evil, is very much evil. Yet it happens constantly because we have developed a culture where it goes unpunished. In fact, many people profit from it.

Not everyone is flat out lying. What we think is evil is simply a matter of perspective. What one person views as evil, another doesn’t. We see conflict all the time over things like abortion, profit motive, war. When one country invades another over oil and commercial reasons, some people call it evil, but the attackers involved justify themselves saying its for ‘national security’. Some people think of rapists as evil, while the rapist justifies his behaviour by saying it was the victim who was evil, the victim tempted the rapist into his actions. Some people think sex is evil, others think it’s a celebration of life and love. Members of two different religions may see each other as evil.

Because of these different perspectives, because reporting may not be truthful, because people have conflicting goals in their behaviour, we must carefully analyze the information we receive. We must be aware of different perspective, and work to communicate with each other and come to mutual understanding. To simply speak out alone and declare the other party evil is to leave both sides in ignorance, which results in conflict.

But, often, lying does happen. Unfortunately, we can’t trust our fellow man. And that’s something that needs to change.

Distrust is something we  learn. We have to learn it, because so many people have learnt to lie. Why do they lie? Because it’s so effective. People are so easily duped because the brain naturally trusts other people. The human brain doesn’t process lies. It thinks the information it takes in is truthful. It naturally trusts what it sees, hears and experiences, especially when the information is coming from other humans. To doubt information would cause the brain to undergo vast amounts of unnecessary work in challenging everything it took in. And we simply take in too much data for that to be efficient.

To our brains, we’re all part of a social group, our survival and success is inherent in working together, and working together is most effective when everyone is sharing accurate and truthful information. Lying hurts the group. Therefore, we naturally trust each other.

We lie for all kinds of selfish reasons. To deny who we are to ourselves. To manipulate how other people see us. To make money. To manipulate how others act. And in every case, it’s wrong. Deception is inaccurate information that leads us to make wrong decisions. The wrong decisions we make hurt ourselves and others. They put our success at risk.

When the opportunity to be truthful arises, and we feel tempted to lie, we must stop. We need to realize that we can’t excuse lying. “Because it’s my job”, or “I’ll lose my job if I don’t lie” are NOT legitimate excuses. “It’s not hurting anyone” is not true. “It’s just a white lie” is bullshit.

Before we share information, we must validate the truth of it. We must consider the consequences of what we’re sharing. We must be responsible in the management of mutual information.


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