It was unsettling to observe the influence of an Internet education during Rep. Tim Huelskamp’s Jan. 9 town hall meeting in Hillsboro. While we’d expect politically conservative views in this Republican-dominated county—and we share many of them as they relate to our country’s debt crisis—we admit to being surprised at the conspiratorial and even hostile tone of several participants about the intentions of the president and his administration.
Everyone is free to express a point of view. It certainly is commendable to become educated on the issues and challenge policies with which we disagree. But we also owe it to ourselves and others to seek credible sources as we evaluate the actions and positions of our leaders.
Granted, it’s obvious that reporters and opinion-shapers in the “mainstream media”—print, network and cable television, etc.—can and do report with a political bias, whether liberal or conservative. But at least there’s a modicum of accountability for being factually accurate in the public arena that is largely missing on the Internet, where free-styling the truth is the primary way to generate attention and visits. What we find there is often little more than digital gossip, which only feeds our human tendency to find “easy” collaboration for the conclusions we secretly seek.
As we look to the Internet for information, let’s ask ourselves: Is this factually accurate? Is it true? (There’s a difference.) And maybe one more question is in order: Is it helpful? —DR