To quote Abraham Lincoln “You can’t believe everything that you read on the internet.” Well he was certainly right about that, because as the dust is still attempting to settle over last year’s US election, accusations about election interference and Fake News abound. Apparently not everything that is called news is actually news. Well that might be news to some people. More and more people are getting news from Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and the internet in general, and with many people only scanning over a few headlines concerns are growing that people are being influenced by Fake News. I do not doubt that there are made up, and unfounded stories which go around, often promoted for a few quick bucks of advertising revenue. But the political and media reaction to Fake News seems a little over done to me. Would I be too cynical to suggest that the mainstream media is simply flying a Fake News kite in an attempt to pull audiences back from the internet and into their own sphere of influence? If so does this then qualify as just another propaganda angle too? Do we put this in the same bag as the term ‘conspiracy theorists’, who are labelled as people who don’t believe the narrative presented by government and supported by the main stream media? Isn’t it interesting that sales of George Orwell’s 1984 are on the increase again, or is that a fake news story too?
What we really want to asking ourselves today is “How do we know, what we know?” This is often a question that I ask people on my NLP trainings. I tend to use the example of the JFK assassination. You will doubtless have an opinion about who Killed John F. Kennedy in November 1963. But what is opinion based on, were you there, have you read the Warren Commission report? Maybe you watched a few TV programmes or the eye witness Zapruder film, or watched Oliver Stone’s movie JFK or maybe you read a couple of books on the subject. There are hundreds of books written about the assassination, and there are many many theories about what happened that day in Dallas. You may well have an opinion, but what is it based on? And you may well also ask, does it matter anyway?
More than ever before, it is important today, in our rapidly changing world, that you are able to make reasonable discernments about who and what to believe about what is going on in the world and what you can or should be doing with your life. This is one of the reasons that I started to teach NLP in the first place, because I see it as an effective way to ensure that you are inoculated against the inappropriate use of manipulation on you. NLP teaches you how to think not what to think. It shows you how to assess information that you are seeing in other people’s physiology, and how to ensure that the message that you are receiving from someone else is both linguistically and physiologically aligned. You learn about the structure of language and the nature of suggestion and suggestive language. I encourage people to think flexibly, to be able to perceive things from other people’s perspectives and from other angles. Ultimately this is all about being able to use more of the grey spongey stuff between your ears. All of this together helps you to be more discerning; it helps you to think more for yourself and through that to be able to really focus on what is important for you in your life.
Here is one last News Flash for you – if we stop and think for a moment, the only thing that we really know for sure is that right now we are having an experience, that’s all. So let’s make sure that we make the experience a positive one.
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” Marcus Aurelius