Tomorrow we’ll be going to the polls to cast our vote in the European Referendum.
It’s a momentous decision, with vociferous campaigning on both the ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ sides.
That campaigning has been complemented by commentary and coverage in the print, broadcast, and social media.
All campaigning, commentary, and coverage has been littered with spin, half and twisted truths, and propaganda.
If you’re undecided about which way to vote, so much (often conflicting) information can make coming to a decision a bit of a challenge for anyone.
Spin, propaganda and uncertainty isn’t unique to an election, of course: the media does it every single day, with everything.
Every news organisation has its own political, social, and cultural bias. That’s due in large part to whomever owns said news organisation.
Why let boring old facts get in the way of an interesting news story? If we sensationalise it a bit, twist some facts (or fabricate some parts…) more papers are sold, viewing figures rise.
You probably know that already – I’m not trying to patronise you, or tell anyone they are stupid for believing what they hear or read in the media. We all do it, especially if it is something we agree with. I have a degree in history and politics and have many years’ experience of working in PR, and there are many occasions where I have to check myself and ensure I am not taking what I have seen or read at face value.
The point is we can all forget the bias, and none of us are wholly immune to it.
I made my decision about how I will vote (remain) a long time ago, and have not swayed from that. The leave campaign has left me feeling incredibly frustrated (even if we had £350 million a week to build a new hospital there is so much more to the NHS than hospitals, so that’s not going to fix the system) and saddened (immigration, and xenophobia). That’s not to say I haven’t been frustrated and saddened by tactics of the remain campaign, too: (Brexit will mean public sector job cuts and financial insecurity because of course we don’t have already have that do we?).
With 24 hour broadcast and online news, as well as social media ever-present we’ve never been more fortunate to be able to check facts behind stories, and get a range of views to help us form an opinion about something.
Encouraging people to read between headlines is something I am really passionate about – as is remembering we are all human beings.
You’re probably just as saddened by the tragedies in the news during the past week, and of disagreements between friends on social media.
Whichever way you choose to vote, please do try to take the time to check out facts behind the rhetoric and propaganda. One important thing is to VOTE – too many people don’t bother.
The other important thing is to remember to be kind. We should value the fact that we are able to openly disagree with one another, and with the government. We should value the fact that we are in a democracy that means we are able to vote however we choose.
People might not agree with you, but it doesn’t immediately follow that they are bad, or stupid, or any other negative connotation. Talking to one another respectfully, and taking the time to listening to others’ views to help understand their point of view is the way forward for cohesion, cooperation, a decent society – whatever the outcome of the referendum.