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Fake news . . . It’s the latest buzzword that has surfaced in the past year to capture our attention. And it appears there is a lot of #fakenews going on today, too. Wikipedia describes #fakenews as follows:
Fake news is a type of yellow journalism that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread via the traditional print, broadcasting news media, or via Internet-based social media. Fake news is written and published with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically, often with sensationalist, exaggerated, or patently false headlines that grab attention. As such, intentionally misleading and deceptive fake news is different from obviously satirical or parody articles or papers such as The Onion. Fake news often employs eye-catching headlines or entirely fabricated news stories in order to increase readership and, in the case of internet-based stories, online sharing and Internet click revenue. In the latter case, profit is made in a similar fashion to sensational online “clickbait” headlines and relies on advertising revenue generated from this activity, regardless of the veracity of the published stories.
Easy access to online advertisement revenue, increased political polarization between the left and right, and the ubiquity and popularity of online social media, primarily the Facebook newsfeed, have all been implicated in the spread of fake news. Anonymously-hosted fake news websites lacking known publishers have also been implicated, because they make it difficult to prosecute sources of fake news for libel or slander. The relevance of fake news has experienced greater growth in a post-truth political reality. (Quote source here.)
A few days ago I ran into an article published online in Politico Magazine by Jacob Soll titled, “The Long and Brutal History of Fake News.” The subtitle states, “Bogus news has been around a lot longer than real news. And it’s left a lot of destruction behind.”
Soll opens his article with a brief and grueling history lesson on the power of #fakenews dating back to 1475 regarding the disappearance of a 2 1/2-year-old-boy that ended up with fifteen members of a Jewish community being found guilty and burned at the stake. They had nothing to do with the boy’s disappearance, but the purveyors of #fakenews didn’t care about the actual facts. And Soll states, “The story inspired surrounding communities to commit similar atrocities” (quote source here). #fakenews is meant to inflict the greatest possible harm to its target in a way that obliterates the truth.
Fake news isn’t just the latest buzzword to be bantered about in newsrooms and on social media. It’s deadly and it’s the stuff of propaganda. Soll states:
. . . Amid all the media hand wringing about fake news and how to deal with it, one fact seems to have gotten lost: Fake news is not a new phenomenon. It has been around since news became a concept 500 years ago with the invention of print—a lot longer, in fact, than verified, “objective” news, which emerged in force a little more than a century ago. From the start, fake news has tended to be sensationalist and extreme, designed to inflame passions and prejudices. And it has often provoked violence. The Nazi propaganda machine relied on the same sorts of fake stories about ritual Jewish drinking of children’s blood that inspired Prince-Bishop Hinderbach in the 15th century [see article for background information]. Perhaps most dangerous is how terrifyingly persistent and powerful fake news has proved to be. As Pope Sixtus IV [see article for details] found out, wild fake stories with roots in popular prejudice often prove too much for responsible authorities to handle. With the decline of trusted news establishments around the country, who’s to stop them today?
Fake news took off at the same time that news began to circulate widely, after Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1439. “Real” news was hard to verify in that era. There were plenty of news sources—from official publications by political and religious authorities, to eyewitness accounts from sailors and merchants—but no concept of journalistic ethics or objectivity. Readers in search of fact had to pay close attention. In the 16th century, those who wanted real news believed that leaked secret government reports were reliable sources, such as Venetian government correspondence, known as relazioni. But it wasn’t long before leaked original documents were soon followed by fake relazioni leaks. By the 17th century, historians began to play a role in verifying the news by publishing their sources as verifiable footnotes. . . . (Quote source here.)
“Perhaps most dangerous is how terrifyingly persistent and powerful fake news has proved to be.” That is, no doubt, why is it used so effectively and pervasively. Soll’s article is quite informative, and he ends it with the following statement:
The Pew Research Center’s “State of the Media 2016” paints a grim picture for most serious news organizations. Advertising revenue is down; staffs continue to get cut; the number of newspapers has declined by 100 since 2004. Between 2003 and 2014, with the decline of the printed press, the number of professional statehouse reporters dropped 35 percent. Professional local beat reporters are also a dying breed. These figures, trained in basic journalistic principles, were locally known and trusted. They could be found in bars and local schools and acted as the human link between statehouses, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. population. They were seen as local heroes. (Jimmy Stewart often played truth-obsessed newspaper reporters in films, like the 1948 thriller “Call Northside 777.”) But today, these popular role models and societal links are gone, and with them, a trusted filter within civil society—the sort of filter that can say with authority to fellow local citizens that fake news is not only fake, it is also potentially deadly.
Real news is not coming back in any tangible way on a competitive local level, or as a driver of opinion in a world where the majority of the population does not rely on professionally reported news sources and so much news is filtered via social media, and by governments. And as real news recedes, fake news will grow. We’ve seen the terrifying results this has had in the past—and our biggest challenge will be to find a new way to combat the rising tide. (Quote source here.)
In an article titled, “How to Spot Fake News,” by Eugene Kiely and Lori Robertson on FactCheck.org, a project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Kiely and Robertson state:
Fake news is nothing new. But bogus stories can reach more people more quickly via social media than what good old-fashioned viral emails could accomplish in years past.
Concern about the phenomenon led Facebook and Google to announce that they’ll crack down on fake news sites, restricting their ability to garner ad revenue. Perhaps that could dissipate the amount of malarkey online, though news consumers themselves are the best defense against the spread of misinformation.
Not all of the misinformation being passed along online is complete fiction, though some of it is. Snopes.com has been exposing false viral claims since the mid 1990s, whether that’s fabricated messages, distortions containing bits of truth and everything in between. Founder David Mikkelson warned in a Nov. 17, 2016 article not to lump everything into the “fake news” category. “The fictions and fabrications that comprise fake news are but a subset of the larger bad news phenomenon, which also encompasses many forms of shoddy, unresearched, error-filled, and deliberately misleading reporting that do a disservice to everyone,” he wrote.
A lot of these viral claims aren’t “news” at all, but fiction, satire and efforts to fool readers into thinking they’re for real . . . [Quote source here). Additional information on how to spot fake news in this article is available at this link.]
Scope.com (mentioned above) has a “fake news archive” with the latest, up-to-the-minute reporting of #fakenews at this link. Established in 1995, Snopes states that it has “all the latest rumors, urban legends, myths and misinformation gathered together in one nifty list” (quote source and list available here).
Today, we live in a world where information is readily at our fingertips and often behind a screen. Information online is easy to post, instant to view and can be shared quickly to a wide audience. While this can seem like a great advantage, there are also dangers that arise with the shift to online platforms. One of these dangers is the rise of fake news.
One of the reasons fake news is so dangerous is it often hides under the appearance of a legitimate news organization. Recently, Stanford researchers conducted an 18-month study which evaluated middle school, high school, and college students from 12 states and their ability to assess the information they see online. The results were in their words “bleak.” The researchers had hoped middle school students would be able to distinguish an advertisement from a news story, high school students would be able to recognize articles presented by a biased source, and college students would look at sources of articles which present only one side of an argument. “But in every case and at every level, we were taken aback by students’ lack of preparation,” said researchers. The data was so alarming that researches stated, “At present, we worry that democracy is threatened by the ease at which disinformation about civic issues is allowed to spread and flourish”. . . .
The dangerous reality of fake news became apparent on December 4, 2016 when Edgar Maddison Welch shot a AR-15 assault rifle multiple times in Comet Ping Pong, a Washington D.C. pizzeria. Authorities reported that Welch’s actions were in response to a fake news article claiming a child sex-trafficking ring led by Hillary Clinton was hidden in the pizzeria. Thankfully no one was injured, but this incident gives rise to the question, in a situation like this who is responsible? Welch is now facing federal charges but should the person who wrote the fake news article be held accountable?
Not only is there real danger behind fake news but real money as well. The team at NPR’s Planet Money decided to track one popular fake news story titled “FBI Agents Suspected In Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead In Apparent Murder-Suicide,” which reportedly got 1.6 million views in 10 days, to its source. The story was originally published on the Denver Guardian, a fake news site made to look incredibly professional. Planet Money was able to track the Denver Guardian and several other fake news sites to one person, Jestin Coler. Planet Money interviewed Coler and while he wouldn’t share the exact profits he was making from fake news, he did admit it was around $10,000 to $30,000 a month. The money is made through advertisements that are featured on the fake news sites. . . .
. . . At a news conference in Berlin on November 17, 2016, President Obama said “If we are not serious about facts and what’s true and what’s not, and particularly in an age of social media when so many people are getting their information in sound bites and off their phones, if we cannot discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems.”
With seemingly professional fake news so readily available online it is up to the reader to make sure information is accurate before they accept it as the truth. Before passing on information to others, readers can check sources and explore an article to make sure it is truthful and non-biased. Even though an article may confirm an opinion, it does not necessarily make it true. Philosopher Michael Lynch said that the internet is “both the world’s best fact-checker and the world’s best bias confirmer -often at the same time.” Consumers must keep that in mind as we use the internet as a tool while searching for the truth. (Quote source here. Links in article have been added.)
Here’s one last article on the seedier side of #fakenews titled, “Why Does Fake News Exist? A Look Inside A Highly Lucrative Business,” by Financial Samurai. Financial Samurai has been highlighted in major publications such as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal Online, Business Insider, The Consumerist, The Sydney Herald, The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times (source here). Financial Samurai states:
Everywhere I go people seem to be talking about fake news. It’s fascinating to witness the war between Donald Trump and the mass media, especially CNN. The rare press conferences he hosts truly are entertaining to watch if you’re stuck on the throne longer than normal one morning. [Comment not endorsed by this blogger.]
As an online media entrepreneur who types from San Francisco, plenty of people have been asking me why there’s been such a proliferation of fake, very fake, or overly biased news. To understand fake news, we must understand the cast of characters. . . .
There are two main creators of fake news. The most egregious creator comes from non-journalists who put out spammy garbage you see on the web that’s simply untrue. The second creator of fake news is not so much fake news, but biased news coming from journalists with an agenda. Biased news isn’t as egregious since we all have our biases that are hard to extricate from our actions. However, biased journalists can do greater damage due to their large platforms.
The main reason why fake news exists is simply due to the desire for MONEY, lots of it! Once you follow the money, everything becomes much clearer. The #1 goal of every fake news creator is to get as many impressionable readers to click on their fake news articles as possible. More clicks means more advertising revenue.
Clickbait titles are very important because fake news creators cannot compete on substance. None of their articles will ever rank well on search (Google, Bing, etc) because most of their content is very thin and filled with grammatical errors on topics that are very ephemeral, e.g., “Southern California Floods Sweep Away Neverland Ranch, Revealing Michael Jackson Is Still Alive!”
The average fake news article might contain 250 words of gibberish, whereas the average article on Financial Samurai tends to be more evergreen with well over 1,200 words, complemented with charts and graphs. Due to the way search engines work, a fake news article would unlikely ever rank above an article I write about on the same topic. If it did, the search engine would be discredited and eventually lose a ton of money themselves.
Fake news creators are paid generally in the range of $1 – $10 per 1,000 impressions. Therefore, if a fake news creator can get 1,000,000 impressions a month, his website stands to earn $1,000 – $10,000 a month. If you’re a fake news teen earning $10,000 a month living in Macedonia [see article at this link] you’re crushing it because the Macedonia GDP per capita is less than $5,000. That’s like making $960,000 a year here in the U.S.!
So how do spammy garbage sites exist on the web if they can’t rank well in search?
The first reason is due to low barriers to entry. Anybody can start a website for less than $50 a year nowadays and compete with the Yahoos, the Forbes, The New York Times, and the Googles of the world. WordPress and other platforms make it easy to create good looking sites that used to cost tens of thousands to create. Chances of creating a reputable website off of fake news are low, but so is the opportunity cost.
The second reason why fake news exists is due to the enablers. More specifically: Facebook. Facebook has almost two billion users each day who waste about an hour of their lives on their platform. Facebook is the largest, most engaged social media platform in the world. Fake news creators know that people who spend lots of time on Facebook are often lonely, highly impressionable people who are looking for validation and a way out of their misery. Since misery loves company, negative fake news does very well.
From the fake news creator’s perspective, if he can spend $1 on advertising to make $1.10 in advertising revenue off a bogus article, he’ll do it all day long until marginal cost exceeds marginal revenue. If you are a skilled fake news creator, sometimes you can spend $1 to make $2 in revenue, which is an absolute goldmine until arbitrage whittles away all profits.
Paying for clicks is what paid marketing is all about. Based on my experience consulting for various marketing departments who regularly spent $50,000 – $200,000 a month on online marketing, Facebook has the highest return on investment in paid marketing, much more so than Google Adwords, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
The reason? Facebook knows more about you than every other platform because you’re spending the most amount of time clicking and sharing on their platform. They track all your behavior and know everything you like and do. Therefore, an advertiser can target their ideal consumer much more granularly, e.g., a get rich quick scammer can target an insecure guy in massive credit card debt who constantly posts selfies of himself with things he cannot afford.
I’ve spoken to many engineers at Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google about how easy it is to stop fake news from running on their platforms, and they all said it is very easy to do. All Facebook has to do is create a new screening algorithm and employ a team to randomly vet the output of these algorithms before articles are advertised on other people’s news feeds. Sure, they won’t catch all fake news, because “good” fake news almost seems like real news, but they’ll certainly reduce the number of fake news articles on their platform.
Ask yourself why there is no fake news on your LinkedIn feed compared to all the garbage on Facebook. The first reason is because LinkedIn doesn’t allow fake news. The second reason is because LinkedIn’s members won’t stand for fake news. They’ll actively report a fake news article and ruin the reputation of the fake news creator/poster. In other words, the quality of users is quite different.
Don’t think for one second a company with over $30 billion in revenues can’t do more to squash fake news on their platform. Even if you are worth millions or multi-billions, the desire for more money is often too strong to allow a person to do the right thing. . . .
Fake news is all about taking advantage of impressionable people in order to make more money. Thank goodness I’m not in the business of reporting the news because that is a never ending grind. But thank goodness there is fake news because it allows media people who build a brand based on substance to get ahead in the long run. . . .
The creators of fake news come from all over the world due to low barriers to entry. Geoarbitrage makes earning money online from a poorer country much more attractive. If all you have to do is make $417 a month in Macedonia ($5,000 per capita GDP) to replicate the $4,416 purchasing power a month in the United States ($53,000 per capita GDP), you’ll absolutely be drawn to the fake news business. Fake news headlines need to stir emotion, usually the negative kind that makes you rage.
I have to admit that I learned a whole lot more about #fakenews than I ever knew before I wrote this blog post. May we all take our online viewing a lot more seriously as there is a lot of #fakenews out there, and unscrupulous folks are not only manipulating us, but they are getting rich off of us, too. . . .
And you shall know the truth . . .
And the truth . . .
Shall make you free . . . (John 8:32)
YouTube video: “Speak Life” by TobyMac:
A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.
In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.
This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing? (Quote source here.)
Kevin Gerald, founder and pastor of Champions Centre in Tacoma, WA, opens Chapter 9 titled, “Good Eyes,” in his book titled, “Good Things” (2015), with a shortened version of the above story (see pp. 61-62). After the story, Gerald asks:
How could anyone miss this? The master violinist did a charity concert and over a thousand people walked by without noticing? How does that happen?
The fact is that the people who passed by that day represent a trait common to all of us: we don’t always see what’s right in front of us. But the fact that we don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Just what’s wrong with our eyes, anyway? (Quote source, “Good Things,” p. 62).
It’s true that we don’t often see what is right in front of us. Sometimes it has to do with our perception; sometimes it’s because, like the folks in the subway, we’re in a rush to get somewhere else. In the process of becoming adults we’ve lost our inquisitiveness that we had as children–the “stop and smell the roses” moments that we rarely take anymore. We assume things that are often not based in reality (e.g., gossip, or “fake news” that has recently entered our lexicon) that become our own perception of reality. We’ve all heard the saying, “perception is reality.” But is it really? (See article titled, “‘Perception is Reality’–Not Always True,” by Dr. Paul White at this link).
In “Good Things,” Chapter 9, Gerald goes on to write:
Jesus told us, “The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness” (Luke 11:34, NKJV).
My eyesight is not as por as some people’s. But when I have my glasses on I can read with a lot more ease and catch details that I otherwise miss. Just as people go to an eye doctor to get glasses or have surgery to give them better eyesight, we’re not stuck with our current life paradigm. We can choose a better one!
The word “paradigm” comes from the Greek and is, in a general sense, a reference to a set pattern or way we see the world–not in terms of our physical eyes but in terms of our assumptions, beliefs, and overall perspective. Its’ what we might call our mind’s eye.
This is what Jesus was referring to as he explained the eye as the lamp of the body. He was saying that the eye can be good or the eye can be bad, and the condition of our eye affects what we see or don’t see, what we experience or miss out on. If our eyes are good, it’s like turning on a lap inside of us. We brighten up in our spirits because we’re living with a greater awareness of God’s goodness and blessings in our lives.
The opposite is true about bad eyes; they miss seeing the good. They may or may not take in darkness, but they definitely don’t take in light. What they don’t see is not what they are incapable of seeing but typically what they are not trained to see.
In a similar way, the only thing that’s different between a negative person and a positive person is what they “see.” Two people can grow up in the same house with similar life experiences, and one will be negative about life and the other will be positive. Even though they have been surrounded by the same environment and have the same parents, what they see and the way they see it is different.
Negative people are not bad. Pessimistic people are not ignorant. In fact, oftentimes negativity is a trait of people who are highly informed in what they call reality. When passing along their perspective, they will tell you, “I’m not being negative; I’m just being real!” And they are being real in what they are aware of and educated in, which is the “life is hard” reality. They have taken pages of notes and have the data to support the fact that life is not a gravy train!
When people are deeply educated in the “life is hard” reality but undereducated in the “God is good” reality, they lean toward the unfavorable possibility versus seeing the possibility of something good. The reason these persons can get stuck in their negativity is that they have accepted that the “life is hard” reality cancels out the “God is good” reality.
I’ve found that anyone, even people highly aware of the “life is hard” reality, will become authentically optimistic when they educate themselves in the “Good is good” reality. You don’t have to deny the realities associated with life being hard to see the realities associated with God being good! (Quote source, “Good Things,” p. 62-64).
As Gerald notes, it’s not that life isn’t hard for all of us from time to time (and sometimes for a long time), but rather not forgetting that God is still good when life is hard. Gerald writes more on this topic in Chapter 9 and also devotes a chapter to it in Chapter 12 titled, “What About ‘If'”.
In my work with people, I often deal with individuals’ reactions to situations as well as communication issues between co-workers and family members. As a result, in the process of working through these issues, people often say to me, “Well, you know, perception is reality.” Sometimes they say this to explain how miscommunication occurred with another person, or why they feel the way they do. . . .
The problem is — it is not true. At least, not always.
There is a verifiable reality that exists. And sometimes our perceptions (or beliefs about the world) do not match reality. In the physical realm, that is the basis for illusionists — they are able to make things appear different than they really are. Also, there are those tricks of nature that our senses can play on us that can lead us to misinterpret what is really happening (having a sense of your body being warm while you are in the beginning stages of hypothermia).
But in day to day life, I see the mismatch between perception and reality more practically. Here are some examples.
Miscommunication. The classic example is the scenario like this: “You said ….” “I did not. I said ….” “Oh, but I thought you said ….” “No. What I said (or at least, thought I did) was …” “But I thought you said …” If we stick with the perception is reality proposition, this leads to major problems in communication. This is true for both parties. For the initial speaker, “what I thought” does not necessarily equal “what I said”. And “what I said” is not necessarily the same thing as “what I meant”. Similarly, for the listener, “what I heard you say” may not be the equivalent to “what you said”. So perception may be perception, but it may not be what actually occurred.
The mismatch between feeling reactions and reality. I often see the disconnect between reality and perception in the area of worrying. Being worried or anxious is essentially a smaller version of being afraid (there is a qualitative difference between being terrified or afraid for one’s safety and being worried or concerned). However, the realm of worry and anxiety have to do with potential events that may happen. They always have to do with the future. The challenge is — not everything people worry about is reality-based. Those who struggle significantly with anxiety can worry daily about their loved ones being killed in a car accident on the way to school or work. Or they can worry about the stock market crashing, losing all of their savings, and winding up being homeless.
[NOTE: One way we can manage our fears and worries is to do a “reality check” — what is the actual likelihood of x event happening today? Has x happened before? How many times? Even if x happens, does that necessarily mean y will happen? And even in the unlikely event that x happens and y also happens, what are all of the circumstances that need to be in place for z then to occur? The chances are incredibly slim. So, how much time and energy do you want to spend worrying about a series of incidents that will probably not happen?]
Misinterpretation of a situation. Some people make quick judgments. Sometimes this is to their benefit. But, in other cases, it can lead to misjudging what is going on in a situation. In working with kids and teens, I have often seen a scenario where a fairly impulsive student, who also views themselves as the ‘protector’ of others will come into a room and see a couple of guys “scuffling”. They have each other in headlocks and are throwing one another around the room. The self-appointed “hero” sees the guys “fighting” and promptly dives in, tackles one of the fighters, taking him to the ground, and yells, “Break it up!” (Frequently someone gets hurt in the process.) It is then that the hero finds out that the two boys were just “horsing around” and it was a good-natured tussle between two friends. The two “fighters” wind up being angry at the hero for interfering with their fun and over-reacting to the situation. Unfortunately, this happens in the adult world as well — where someone misinterprets a situation and reacts inappropriately because of their misperception. Truly, in these situations, perception is not reality.
Inaccurate beliefs about the way the world is. For instance, in doing career coaching with individuals, many people believe that finding a job that meets their needs and desires should be fairly easy and should happen within a matter of weeks. So they “dive in” looking and applying for jobs. After several weeks with no job, they begin to become discouraged (our feeling reactions are inter-related with our expectations) and begin to question if they are pursuing the right career direction. Self-doubt also sets in, wondering if they are capable of finding the type of job they want and whether they are really marketable. The reality is that finding a job which is a good fit for you takes a lot of time and energy. Usually three to six months, or longer. And this reality is demonstrated time and time again (one of the aspects of “reality” is that it can be verified empirically).
Misattribution of motive. Probably the most damaging form of misperception is the case of attributing a certain motive to someone else’s action, and being quite far off the mark. This happens in marriages a lot, it seems. And it can be the result of either an overt action (that is, something you did) or the absence of an action (something you didn’t do but the other person thought you should have). Let me state something clearly — most of us aren’t fully clear why we do what we do, let alone being able to understand the motives of another. It is always best to ask (and hopefully, believe) the other person, “Why did you …?” It can be helpful to start with the phrase, “I’m confused. Can you help me understand why you…?” (It seems to take the accusatory edge off of the interaction.) There are tons of examples, more than I want to go into (and for fear of incriminating myself). Let me just suggest: we often get “bent out of shape” with others because we attribute a reason for their action or inaction that is not accurate.
There are other examples of perception not equaling reality, but I think that is enough for now. Maybe use these ideas to frame your own thoughts when you hear: “Well, you know, perception is reality.” Maybe. Maybe not. (Quote source here.)
We all can see ourselves in those paragraphs cited above. I have also noticed that one of the most common places where our communications can be easily misinterpreted is in our use of Social Media. A quick text, or a Facebook post, or a tweet on Twitter can unleash a firestorm of misunderstanding, and it also has the capability of circling our globe instantaneously. So can email (just ask WikiLeaks). In fact, the technology created since the beginning of the 21st Century could eventually be responsible for unleashing World War 3 at some point in time. I’m not sure how we solve the misunderstanding issues on Social Media or if we can solve them, but perhaps it would do us all some good if we turned off our technology once in awhile and really do stop and smell the roses occasionally and gain back some perspective.
We live in both a fragile and an oftentimes angry world where the very thought that “God is good” comes into question on a frequent basis. The concept seems almost alien in the midst of some very horrific stuff that goes on all around our globe. That’s because evil exists and we too often blame the evil on God (or at least blame God for allowing it). However, it is as Kevin Gerald stated (quoted above) when he said:
I’ve found that anyone, even people highly aware of the “life is hard” reality, will become authentically optimistic when they educate themselves in the “Good is good” reality. You don’t have to deny the realities associated with life being hard to see the realities associated with God being good! (Quote source, “Good Things,” p. 63-64).
For example, if you have survived some really horrific stuff today and you’re still alive, who has kept you alive? Or if you think you can’t make it through another day, who is it that keeps you going? God isn’t good just when times are good; God is good when times are horrific, too. He sees us through them if we will only stop blaming him for them and, instead, understand what Romans 8:28 is really saying to all of us:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
“All things” not only includes the good things and good times, but the really horrific stuff, too–the very stuff we can’t handle on our own. Jesus said we are to always pray and never give up (Luke 18:1), and that is especially true in the horrific turns our lives sometimes take, too. Life is not alway easy, and perception is not always reality; however. . .
God is good . . .
All the time . . .
And all the time God is good . . . .
YouTube Video: “God Is Good All The Time” by Chester Baldwin: