Exploring the Social Imagination

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Fake News in the Social Imagination...

What is fake news and what is real in the social imagination? That is a fair question. First, let's look at two interesting phenomenon that we experience daily: suggestion and choice. Why? Because, what is labeled fake news is dependent upon those experiences. We like to imagine that we are making a rational choice when we choose certain information over other incoming information. But, is that really the case? Charles H. Cooley made an excellent detailed explanation for what is really happening in our social imagination.

Before, telling you what he detailed, let me first say that for Cooley, all society was and ever will be takes place in the human mind. You can never know society or anything for that matter outside of creative social imagination - social collective thought which is constantly in the comparative elaborate process of mental organization or synthesis which for Cooley was rendered necessary by complexity in the elements of our thought. In its social aspect for all, or nearly all, our choices relate in one way or another to the social environment... it is an organization of comparatively complex social relations.

It does not matter if we are talking about rich people, poor people, local people or those at the top of society in government i.e. The process is the same. They know only what they agree upon through social interaction; as I have written before social reality is agreement reality. We agree that this is this and that is that not because it, as in anything even people, exist in some absolute form known to all immediately, no...certainly not. It is what it is because we agree it is something.

And, it can only be agreed to be something because whatever is going on in that comparative process  suggests meaning and as such brings us to choice. The decision to act 'choose' is not merely made by the individual; no he/she will and cannot act alone. The choice is made by the group and all else follows. Individuals in that group being parts of it feel as if they have made a choice. In this, group event 'process' of which individuals are part, they find the meaning of the group and their part in the group and this seemingly provides an advantage for them personally - what is personal among us.

So, what is fake news in the social imagination? According to Cooley, there is news that for some is fake and for others is real. If all agree it is fake, then it is fake but that does not mean it could never be real for some or even for all at some point in the future. People say "well, there are facts right"! And, I like Cooley would have to ask, "whose facts are you talking about?"

You can say to me that the sun is a star and I will agree and then you will say... you see that is a fact. I will say its only a 'fact' because we agreed. There was a time when the earth was the center of the universe and people agreed that was a fact until Copernicus came along.

When you surf the net or read the papers or listen to the nightly news, you immediately begin to sort what you will accept and what you won't accept whether or not it is true or not. I know people that will swear up and down that so and so said that and guess what... so and so never did. Or if I point that so and so did say that, those same people will say they never heard of it or can't remember ever hearing that.

There is a helpline being offered on some social media platforms which will guide you through how to detect fake news from real news. Can you imagine that? I can if we are talking about social engineering. What a great way to get people to think the way you want them to. Isn't that what news is about anyway. Of course, we want to see the news about our favorite sport teams doing well in the playoffs, and we want to see the news about our elected officials doing well or screwing up in the case we did not check the box by their name.

You will have to decide in the end? Which news you will base your life on and which news you won't because in the end that's all anyone can do. So, keep your ears open and your eyes on things that you think will get you where you want to go. Oh, as far as using other opinions or fact checkers... guess what? They are in agreement reality as well and can only go by what they can agree is real or not.

Facts are only what we agree they are as received in a certain order and who agrees upon that makes them a fact. You cannot know facts outside of social agreement - social reality. Why? Because, they don't exist outside of the social imagination. You can never know it... as you can never be outside of the framework of social imagination; what Cooley called = our choices which relate in one way or another to the social environment through the mechanism of suggestion... it is an organization of comparatively complex social relations. And, that much is a fact!

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