How Much Do You Care About the Truth?

“You can’t handle the truth!” So are the immortal words of Mr. Jack Nicholson in ‘A Few Good Men’…

We’re living in a world of information overload, in fact, the word “overload” is even an understatement. Left, right, front, back (side to side) – everywhere you look there’s a news story, a blog post, a tweet – everyone’s talking all the time.

Sometimes, OK, often times it feels like we’re running in circles, don’t you think? It’s noisy out there. And while it can be exciting, compelling, entertaining, and thought provoking, it’s virtually impossible to keep up with.

David Spinks, someone I very much respect – a guy that is light-years ahead of where I was at his age, wrote a great post recently on the value and trust we place on all of the content we’re consuming. In his post, David makes an extremely valid point that I 100% agree with.

The Ol’ Belief that “Sex Sells”

What we’re seeing, more and more, is not so much a pursuit of truthful, fact based, resource-supported content – but instead a heavy emphasis on the “now” – the latest news, the hottest, most popular buzz-worthy content we can get our hands on. David says:

Today, credibility in content is determined by who and how many share it. As credibility becomes increasingly determined by sharability the value of the truth is driven downward.

This is the way our society in general is programmed to think – this is the type of content that “sells” and gets people talking. But what we’re seeing is a total blur of what’s truthful and what isn’t – content manufactured simply to create a buzz. And what’s scary is we’re starting to almost not care about honesty – it’s increasingly becoming more about who said it and where they said it. The online world has become one big “who you gonna’ believe?” popularity contest. I want out.

Ted Koppel (Nightline Ted Koppel) stepped on to the stage last week of the IRI CPG Summit immediately following a panel I was involved with, and he talked about this exact “blur” of information.

Paraphrasing, Ted praised the Internet for what it has done and continues to do with the sharing of information, but also criticised it in an almost fearful way, stating that in today’s online world, there’s no way to truly know who these ‘information sharers’ are or what there intent is. We can’t say beyond a shadow of a doubt that what anyone is saying online is true (of course the same can be said for “traditional” media) but it’s much more prevalent in the online world.

That being said, here I am, sitting back and thinking, “Do we even care about the truth these days? Or are we so focused on immediacy and the popularity of the information source that we’re easily blinded from what’s really REAL”?

The New Dawn of Blogging and Information Sharing

Referring back to David’s post and the comments thereafter, I think we’re going to, in time, see a further evolution of blogging and information sharing that is founded in credibility and research. Why? Because over time, the public will demand the truth, they’ll demand proof. The popularity contest will never go away, but that popularity will be founded more-so in honesty and credibility and less in sensational writing. We (collectively) will evolve into more educated and well versed readers who will question and challenge writers and what they’re writing. It’s not going to happen tomorrow and it may get worse before it gets better, but the future of online content will require the cold hard facts.

In short, you better be ready to back shit up.

What do you think? What do you see happening today when it comes to popularity versus honesty? Is there a defining line? Where do you see “online media” heading in the future? Can we handle the truth? Do we even want it?