True Enough

Try as I might, books similar in style as Farhad Manjoo’s True Enough drive me up the wall with their endless real-world examples—reminding me of a genre I was exposed to in excess while in high school, that is, leadership. Incorporating such scenarios are necessary to help the reader understand the author’s angle/point—“how modern communications technology has shifted our understanding of the truth” (224)—but it was an intense, all-encompassing effort, I thought. Style isn’t really the point here, I know.

I found myself particularly drawn to the elements of psychology in the beginning chapters of this book. Selective exposure, as a coping mechanism, for instance. “An idea that goes far in explaining why narratives with so little basis in fact […] can now so effortlessly enter our political discourse” (29).

Farhad’s example of the Dartmouth-Princeton football game was also quite telling of the lenses that we wear in life that are so fixed that trying to watch a game from the perspective of the opponent is almost impossible. I’ve heard before that football is a good metaphor for life, and I like how he simplifies it here: “Football […] is a lot of people doing a lot of things together over a series of overlapping time spans, and the thrill of it is that on some of these time spans there is so much going on that it’s hard to know what’s important and what’s not” (69). It’s a social occurrence, he says, and while it might not seem difficult to digest or form an opinion over a single occurrence, that simply is not the way it works in life or in a game. It’s the “stratified structure” that is responsible for the opposing teams’ reality. “[…] not everyone finds the same things significant;”simply: people are paying attention to different details (70).

In the beginning of the book, Farhad states that “changing your beliefs isn’t easy, and it isn’t fun. Sometimes you have no choice” (30). He ends, “Choosing means trusting some people and distrusting the rest. Choose wisely” (230). This class has prompted me to seriously consider the choices I have made in terms of exposing myself to information/news. For instance: deleting my Facebook account in 2012. What have I missed? A lot, certainly. I don’t have personal experience with Facebook filtering what news pops up on my feed. Am I equally disturbed by this issue as a result? I don’t think so. I don’t have television; therefore, I don’t have that quick easy access to top stories, and tend to be slow to find out. I’m not proud of this, in fact, it’s concerning. I do listen to the radio, and read the paper on occasion, but my computer is my source of news, and I feel as though I have a degree of control over what I look at there. My iPhone, on the other hand, prompts me while in the middle of doing life, when a particularly jaw dropping, usually awful, event occurs in the world, such as an act of terror, stopping me in my tracks, causing me to wonder, What in hell is going on?