Often times, freedom can act as a positive or a negative, depending on what people do with it. This is especially true with the freedom of the press, and also of speech. The United States is definitely grateful that journalists are not imprisoned for what they write, and that we have the freedom to say almost anything that is not a physical threat. Yet, how do we use this freedom? Do we sow division? Do we spread misinformation? Do we read not credible sources, and listen to second hand information?
From almost any perspective it is worth guarding our freedom, and the best way to do so is to use it well. Benjamin Franklin is famous for saying that the republic we had under our constitution is a great thing, “If we can keep it.” In fact, Even Paul instructed us to use our freedom well.
“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” -Galatians 5:13 ESV
Paul says to “through love serve one another”. One way that this can be done is through the way we use our speech, the way we use social media, and believe it or not, the information that we consume. The first 2 ways to use this freedom well, probably varies a lot between individuals and actually will be based on the way that they consume information. Methods of filtering information will need to be extremely practical in order, so that the best information can be found. Below are some general methods, that have worked for me, and I am pretty sure they will work for you.
1. Take 2 days a week off of Social Media. There is a lot of information on Social Media, it is easy to lose time in the vortex. Especially on highly political platforms such a as twitter, it is very easy to get drawn into a world that doesn’t exist. This is why I take a couple days a week to be as connected as possible with the atmosphere around me. I used to do long social media breaks at irregular intervals, but I have found that creates an inconsistency to life, and it makes me become disconnected, when I need to learn to use social media well. I honor the Christian sabbath, so for the last few weeks I have been deleting my social media apps on Saturday night, and redownloading them on Tuesday.
2. Go to the primary sources, don’t just listen to someone else’s opinion. How are you supposed to know the truth if you just heard someone talk about it? Watch livestream of important events and read primary sources, there is substantially less distortion in the primary source.
3. Read print news. Anyone can post anything on the internet, and there is a lot to sift through. It does not necessarily take any amount of support, or any amount of credibility. Well not all print sources are credible, there are certain publications, that it is worth being a regular subscriber to because of their reputation and commitment to truth. My most preferred news source is the Economist. The Economist is a British publication with comprehensive coverage of world news. It contains lots of opinion pieces, but I find that the articles are reasonable and fair. Other print news sources such as The Atlantic, and The Wall Street journal are also great options.
4. Read philosophy. Current events is great- it is history in the making. Current Events are always changing though, and philosophy is not. It is hard to keep up with current events and can be overwhelming to live based on everything that is happening in the world in real time. I would not argue that anyone should base their life on current events. However, I would advocate that everyone live their lives based on some sort of morals. Philosophy is helpful to know what you believe, and to interpret the world through it.
5. Speak the facts. Often times when people try to explain something, they will try to put their own spin on it, or to explain their perspective and not just the object. There is a time and a place for sharing opinions, but it does no one any good when you speak confidently things you are unsure of. Speaking the facts is about more than just politics, it is a way of living life. When people are honest about what they are unsure of, no one is led astray by a false doctrine not fully thought out. When people speak pure truth, everyone who listens will likely walk away with a fresh perspective.