Commentary by Dr. Larry Burriss: Social Media & Impeachment

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Social Media & Impeachment

by Dr. Larry Burriss,

Well, it didn’t take long for talk of an impeachment to nearly swamp social media sites, and then to boomerang back to chatter about sites talking about impeachment. Such is the nature of the Internet.
But let’s back up a step, and start with a basic truth: both the right and the left, liberals and conservatives, are not telling us the whole truth. Both sides are spinning the facts to bolster their own political biases.
Both sides are what we call “cherry picking” the facts, hoping you won’t notice what is being left out.
So, what will be the impact of social media on impeachment proceedings? The answer is, not much.
One group of people, public officials at all levels will use social media to get their own partisan points across. It’s a safe bet democrats will listen to themselves and ignore republicans, just like republicans will listen to themselves and ignore, or downplay, the democrats.
And media on the left and right will follow right along.
Then there are the millions of people I’m going to refer to as “civilians,” people who may be genuinely interested in politics and social issues, but are really on the outside. Their social media comments are generally speculation, and are usually accompanied by ad hominem attacks, and unsupported accusations.

Do any of these people have any direct contact with public officials? Probably not. Do they know how to question a public figure? Not likely. Are the able to sift through and analyze conflicting data to come to conclusions about trends? I doubt it.
Sure, these people have a lot to say, and are certainly entitled to their opinions, but how much of it is really informed by facts, rather than simply uninformed speculation?
We like to quote Marshall McLuhan, who famously said, “the medium is the message.” Now, in this day of unreliable media forms, the opposite is also true: “the untrustworthy medium is the untrustworthy message.”
I’m Larry Burriss.