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Too much information, not enough truth

The other day, a co-worker mentioned that she’s stopped watching the morning news.  “It’s too much,” she said.  “Every day, it’s something new.  I just can’t take any more.”

She’s not the only one to utter these sentiments in my presence.  Many civilians and even those in the media are tiring of it all.  Day after day.  Like soldiers of war on the frontlines overwhelmed with battle fatigue, we too are experiencing an affliction that is permeating society slowly and inexorably with its ability to paralyze all hope and thought:  Trump fatigue.

Every day, a new story, a new White House scandal emerges, crossing the airwaves.  If unnamed sources aren’t leaking “Fake News,” Trump himself is tweeting unsubstantiated rhetoric.

We hear about secret meetings with Russians, wire-tapping political candidates, and heated debates during the Press Secretary’s daily briefings.  Trump’s handshakes (or in some cases, his refusal to do so) continue to turn into internet headlines and GIFs.  Media outlets spend as much time justifying their own actions as they do covering the actual stories.  Meanwhile, the real politicians are debating the validity and effectiveness of the travel ban, the healthcare plan, and that Mexican wall.

In essence, we are left to sift through the greatest abundance of information in history.  It’s exhausting.  And seemingly quite deliberate.
Trump’s people have been using legitimate media and manipulating social media for months – first, to confuse voters and then, to misdirect us from their more serious political actions.  Ask any lawyer who ever requested documentation from the opposing counsel.  The best way to undermine the search for truth is to inundate the other side with an excess of useless information until they give up or miss something important.

And we love our information, whatever the source.  In the past, there were standards of truth in North American media.  No one risked a comment without extensive corroboration from reliable and identifiable sources.  However, the influx of online and social media has meant anyone with an opinion can state it as fact without much retribution.  Trump has made a political career of such commentary.

This has become frighteningly similar to the Nazi propaganda I read while touring Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.  Their use of media coverage and the lies that permeated every corner of German life was both extensive and fascinating – because it hid Hitler’s atrocities from average citizens.

That’s the danger of too much information.  And decades later, America is experiencing a similar deluge about politics, crime, healthcare, and on occasion, even Sweden.  Why?  Because Americans love their inalienable “right to know.”  But that’s feeding the problem.

As Trump fatigue sweeps the nation, people like my co-worker will continue to shut down.  Forget exhaustive searches for the truth.  Exhaust-ed searches will stop at the first headline.

And if something doesn’t change soon, this current excess of rhetoric will become the norm.  But we’ll be too tired to notice.