Political Influence: Just who holds your ear?

Posted Thursday, September 9, 2004 - 12:00am

We live in the age of technology. With the push of a button we can conjure up television programs, radio shows or an Internet website.

While such advances give our day-to-day lives a fast-paced spin, the information world tends to go into overdrive around election time. After having so many sources fighting for my attention, I have to ask myself which one influences me.

With so many stations and channels devoted solely to news, it's easy to keep up-to-date on the latest political events. Smooth voices and fancy lighting give a lasting impression while videos and photos support the written story.

The entire package carries a certain amount of prestige with it and it's easy to see why so many rely on their local stations.

While hearing about the latest candidate speech on the news is interesting, I tend to forget about it soon after. I already know where I stand on things and some smooth-talking guy in a suit will hardly change that.

On the other hand, when I head to school, work, or a relative's house, I hear many of those same statements. Suddenly things are given a familiar tone and that same cold news story is told in a new light. I walk away from the conversation with much to think about.

What holds more influence over me? While older generations will swear by the local news or radio station, younger generations tend to put more stock in friends and relatives. I stand on a fine line between two very different views which both fight to influence me.

The realistic side of me considers an official news source far more reliable than a parent or friend, but nothing can replace the personal touch gained when talking to someone you know about the issues.

However, while the rest of the world may want to influence my political views, only I can decide what to believe.

With so many sources of information available in our high-tech world, it isn't very hard to research something I'm unsure of. There is no rule forcing me to take the information from a friend or news anchor at face value.

It can be hard at times to hold on to your own view. Sometimes living in a certain area can set popular opinion against you. A group of friends, a co-worker, a respected teacher or parent may highly influence you, leaving you afraid to push against them.

While it may seem easier to let yourself be swayed to any side, remember that popular opinion isn't always right. Sometimes influence needs to be resisted.

It is always good to remember that influence works both ways. If you want to express your opinion, be prepared to hear the other side. It is never good to ignore a viewpoint, no matter how strongly you may agree or disagree. Instead, take that other opinion and learn about it.

Maybe you will end up agreeing with it, or maybe you will find out it was never true to begin with. When it comes to major issues, research is always best. There are many false truths in this world and with a bit of work anyone can avoid them.

We live in a very opinionated world. Issues, especially political ones, buzz around us like a swarm of bees. Truth and falsehood alike can sting and they both can come from anywhere.

After listening to a family lecture on how you should vote, or a news story on the latest candidate scandal, take a step back. If you have doubts, do some research. Don't be afraid to compare facts. At the end of the day you should be secure in where you stand on the issues, no matter who tries to influence you.

Filed under: viewpoints

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