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Bullshit, non-issue, and dishonest information. Part 1: Outrage sells

To give my self more perspective on the current fake-news phenomena I will take a closer look at not the culprits thereof, but rather why it is more prominent over quality news. What draws people to news and articles that contain speculative, opinionated, or straight op false information? Why is the current news output cluttered with so much non-issue? And can anything be done against it that does not restrict the freedom of speech? These questions I think need answering to find the root of the problem.

We have all visited sites that are partisan and show a clear echo chamber and framing to support a single ideology. The articles highlighting the faults in the opponents are numerous and each a valid reason to cause worry or instill irritation.

As example; so many of those late-night talk shows repeat the same unnecessary Trump bashing sketches that it gets almost infuriating to watch. I, by no means, support the methods and policies of the current US president, but ridiculing him over and over must not sit well with his supporters. But that let me wonder as to why it is so popular. How is it possible that these shows with endless taunting and mockery of the same person scores high, regardless of the position he holds?

The number one reason I think what makes this such a success is that outrage sells. Getting people riled up is an effective method to go viral and thus receive more viewers. This strategy is somewhat portrayed in the 1984 book by George Orwell, where the citizens have their anger fuelled by daily videos of the number one enemy of the state. A video from CGP Grey describes the psychological reason behind this in quite a simple matter. Anger is the dominating emotion when it comes to how likely it is for you the share the impulse. On top of that, the more often it is shared the more aggravating these impulses become.

Anger impulses also polarizes the current topic at hand, when portrayed with a message that instil vexation you are more likely to create an us against them illusion in comparison when encountering positive content. A cute cat picture won’t make you despise cute dog pictures, but on topics such as, something complex as the current ‘trade war’ you are more tempted to take one of the two sides; in favour or against.

This conclusion is not some ground breaking new research, it has been and is used by marketing firms since its invention. The prominence of it in news however, seems to be on the rise. In the past there used to be a much clearer line as to what was factual informative news, and what was content to be enjoyed reading for its lack of objectivity. News now is diluted with so much non-issue that it can only increase that apathy we have towards it. Once we reach a point where everything becomes the most important thing, nothing will be important anymore.

The only positive note so far I find is that due to being aware of the abundance of non-issue and dishonest information we tend to be more critical to what we read, hear and see.