The United States Constitution was written in a time when minds were simpler, times were simpler. It was not devised to withstand the barrage of false information we consume on a daily basis. The founding fathers wrote it as a way to prevent the atrocities they had previously witnessed from becoming a reality in the new land they sought to build.
The First Amendment has been weaponized by forces from within and without. No longer is it very profitable to offer an objective viewpoint with conclusive evidence. These days we have entire micro-economies built upon spreading misinformation and disinformation because it is profitable.
This is not to say that it only comes from one side. Quite the contrary, because on any given topic, we are goaded into choosing a side where each side intentionally perpetuates enormous inaccuracies in their position. They are able to do this because they know how your mind is wired and how busy you are trying to survive you likely won’t go searching for real evidence.
This goading comes from not only individuals due to our drive to win debates, but also politicians and corporations like Facebook and Google. Why? Because as you get into a heated debate, you are enticed into creating engagement and content to boost them up. Mis- & disinformation is now — literally — a commoditized product.
It’s True. There is a War on For Your Mind.
Alex Jones was right about one thing. There is a war going on for your mind. Your mind is an extremely valuable commodity. The problem, though, is that even he joined the dark side out of greed. As his popularity grew, it became less about giving people evidence-backed knowledge, and more about skewing evidence to fit his own narrative for the sake of profit.
Our justice system was designed to focus heavily on the burden of proof being upon the shoulders of the one making allegations. This is slowly being stripped away, as well. However, that is not necessarily a bad thing. The burden of proof should lie upon both sides and proof of the truth should be transparent.
The same can be said when it comes to the evidence provided that helps you make up your mind about a topic. It is time that we rebuild America into a nation of logic, reason, and evidence. Far too often, it seems as though we only demand evidence from one another when we disagree on something, but rarely when we discuss something we want to believe. If you find yourself wanting to believe, demand evidence from yourself as to why you want to believe it.
The First Amendment is a Weapon
Not only has the First Amendment become a weapon used by corporations and individuals, but it is also being used against us from political officials from both within and without. We are allegedly experiencing more interference from foreign countries who intentionally spread falsities to achieve some agenda. We have our own politicians who provide false evidence and are not held accountable.
At the same time, we are now and will increasingly be subjected to disinformation that is generated by nefariously programmed machines. Deepfakes and fake news articles created by AI will soon seriously blur the line between what is truth and what is fiction.
It is time that our officials and corporations are held accountable for what they say and the claims they make. Sure, we see a little of it happening. But, calling out an official is not enough. It has achieved nothing other than to further the divide between people who want to blindly believe and people who demand evidence.
How Do We Change Course?
So, how do we hold them accountable? As a nation, I do not want to see us head down a dark path to suppressing individual thought. This does not mean that the opinions of political discourse should be outlawed. Nor does it mean that those who raise questions about suspicious activities should be silenced.
It means that we collectively must seek out and protect the truth. We must strive harder to educate people on how their minds work. Prove that those who understand your mind better than you do use that knowledge to manipulate you. It also means that we move now to open-source America. And, by doing so, we become a model for how to open-source the world.
Holding politicians and media to more stringent truth-telling policies would be our first step. Perhaps devising a point system similar to a consumer credit score-rather credibility score-would be helpful. As politicians or media are caught in lies or mistruths, points are deducted. If they fall below a certain level, the media will lose their status as a reliable source and politicians will be recalled and replaced.
If the average American must have a credit score in order to be judged by institutions as to whether we are trustworthy enough to receive a loan, secure employment, secure rental housing, etc., then those who seek to control the governing of the United States and its people should have a way to be deemed trustworthy enough to do so.
Adding this to the First Amendment will be a step in the right direction for holding those who are the most influential accountable for their words and their actions. In no way does it stop anyone from speaking their minds. It merely adds to accountability to say that if you knowingly choose to spread misinformation, you will lose the trust that has been bestowed upon you in a very public way.