The internet is not what it used to be. Since its launch, it has changed humanity.
Early on, we imagined it as an encyclopedia for all of mankind – the world’s biggest and best library where every question has an answer.
Earlier this decade, consumer electronics had put it in our pockets and that standalone flip phone became an app on the all-new smartphone.
No more shall we be bound to the hard desks of yesteryear. No longer must we drum our fingers through dusty aisles of archaic paperbound books to access knowledge. Now, simply tap your screen, and the world is at your fingertips.
At daybreak, it serves as your alarm, and shortly thereafter, it updates you with the goings on of your nearest and dearest.
Traveling for the weekend? Drop that atlas; you’ve got a GPS in your pocket. That and a ranking of the top eateries in a location near you.
Thinking about six degrees of Kevin Bacon? It’s all there on your phone if you know where to look.
And that gorgeous plate of biscuits you know your friends are dying to see? Your smartphone has a camera packed with megapixels and instant uploads.
Only problem is, does anyone really want to see that photo? Will anyone see your update?
Yes, there’s an answer to every question. Is it the correct answer?
Fact-checkers like snopes.com have competing websites for those who don’t like facts – and they exist to substantiate what we used to call lies.
That diner you found on your GPS by searching, “good eats near me,” may have been ranked by the cook, or by someone whose fries didn’t get enough salt.
It’s been weaponized by this nation’s political parties and most of the world’s international businesses, and they spread falsehoods to anyone who might click.
If a headline is sensational enough to get you to click on it, the purveyor of that “news” gets a small piece of the internet advertising dollars, but often what they’re really after is for you to pass the information on, to make it go viral, and help them fleece your friends and neighbors.
For those who are most difficult to fool (newspaper readers), online news has become a tedious habit of scrolling through dozens of speculative and opinionated pieces disguised as real reporting.
It’s an infuriating exercise in futility, but one for which we have a prescription:
A subscription – more specifically, a print subscription.
If your main source of news is one or more online newspapers, you might be surprised to pick up their print version.
The headlines you’ll see in print aren’t the same. That’s because your online devotion has most media believing that getting you the information first is more important than getting it right.
That results in different editing standards, different sourcing standards. In short, online news, even from our most trusted sources, is a slave to the now.
Looking to relax with a trusted source?
Buy a print subscription to a newspaper or magazine, turn off that little radiator in your pocket for a few minutes (if you can muster the courage), and spend some time reading.