Matrix of Disinformation Ecosystem and Society – Pakistan Today

The future can only be saved by making people media literate
Disinformation is rampant as a global pandemic worldwide. The echo chambering of information is shaping the consciousness of the people as a manipulative tool for the ulterior motives of global and domestic leaders, corporations, and interest groups.
The autonomy of the general and personal will is constantly under the sway of emotional distortion and delusional interpretations of the leaders and politicians widely in the world. The Post-Truth era and conformational biases subdue the rational choices and individuals’ rational decision-making mechanisms based on available heuristics and intuitional biases.
It is time to sensitize the people at the domestic as well as the global level to statistically thinking, synchronization of the biases with rational agencies, and analyzing the information with objectivity.
The factor of  “We ” instead of “They” and the phenomenon of polarization in Pakistan that is breeding new grounds of division and new social hierarchies that is ultimately undervaluing our commitment to the mutual and inclusive culture of democracy and institutional harmony. With the rise of identity politics and the wave of democratic deficit, the Post-Truth and disinformation narratives are more pronounced.
Narrative building is an efficient tool in domestic and global politics as a tool to synthesize the selective choices of interest groups or the opinion-makers rather than providing the truth and technical knowledge to leave the decision choices to the people. The persuasive content is based on emotional appeal; for example, Donald Trump used his Twitter account excessively to bash minorities, immigrants, and the global community through emotional appeals. The consequence of this emotional appeal was the strict social division in American society that consequently led to the storming of the citadel of American democracy and classic norms of inclusivity.
The example of such narrative building from Pakistan Society is also pronounced in the form of the Islamic vocabulary in the daily speeches of politicians to appeal to the majority of people for their vested interests. The use of a filter bubble in the social commercialization where the existing beliefs of people are perpetuated through the repetitive patterns of the news and narratives that conform to the biases rather than providing the facts and evidence to filter the truth and reality.
Agenda setting through selective information is the new normal in society. The world is portrayed as more violent, dreadful, and scary through all the media outlets and academic culture because the lifecycle of shock and crisis is more than the truth. According to George Gerbner Professor ofCommunication Studies, this phenomenon is pronounced as the Mean World Syndrome.
The bMean World Syndrome asserts that exposure to violent and scary media consumption of people shapes the negative views of people about the world, that the modern civilization is bad and the living in this era is more violent than in the previous centuries. The violent news and negative consumptions overshadow the critical faculty of people to analyze and sieve the truth. Steven Pinker in his book The Better Angels of our Nature proved that we are living in the most peaceful era of the world. The mortality rate declined, life expectancy increased and militaristic conflicts decreased in the last centuries compared to what our forefathers experienced. The narratives are built that the world is at the apocalypse of terror but the reality is oherwise.
The maximization of capital over the violent and dreary news and information is systematically entrenched in our society because the shock and crisis can cause more media traffic and subscriptions. The comments in such news and information shape our perceptions about the world that ultimately construct a dismaying picture of contemporary conditions.
Disinformation operates in society through some psychological biases. Our mind is always deceiving us but the majority of us don’t know this. The propaganda machinery was firstly used to familiarize people through some selective information. When something becomes familiar individuals tend to confirm those familiar biases and seldom challenge the existing beliefs. The conformational biases and familiarity biases exploit personal autonomy. For example, it was believed already in Pakistan before covid-19 that vaccines were some propaganda tool to infect the population with diseases. The already existing biases worked well during COVID-19 as the majority of people tend to not get vaccines despite scientific evidence. The misinformation over the YouTube videos and some agenda-setter bloggers propagated that Vaccine is lethal for health. The existing and familiar biases against vaccines are entrenched with more propensity and people confirmed these biases through disinformation.
This caused a health crisis and policy formulation problems during the pandemic in Pakistan as well as the entire globe when global leaders through their social media accounts campaigned against the covid-19 Vaccine. Our brain is reluctant to accept alternative truths and we frequently conform to existing biases. In this way, misinformation shapes our views covertly.
Misinformation from socio-political to socio-economic matters put a setback to policy-making and social cohesion. The disinformation in political parlance causes polarization and intimidation to such an extent that people-to-people interactions are estranged, consequently causing alienation and social breakdown. Misinformation in the economic sector causes a policy that favors the short haul rather than a long-term vision. The phenomenon of misinformation has a major impact on the democratic culture of inclusivity, participation, and cohesion. When campaigns to get a franchises and increase voter turnout through misinformation are practiced the people vote for the distorted information subduing their democratic choices freely. In the long term, the people succumb to the false interpretations.
The global educational system is not ready to equip the people with media literacy and awareness to sieve the information, standards, and measures to subscribe towards truth. In the era of Post-Truth Politics, misinformation is increasing daily but our measures for media literacy are less efficient. It is high time to inculcate media literacy to prepare people for the global pandemic of fake news and propaganda to preserve our sanity, democracy, and environment. The courses to sensitize coming generations about the information landscape must be designed on how to validate and filter certain information.
We are living in the most peaceful arena but the most vulnerable realm as it becomes easy to succumb to our psychologies, emotions, and cognitive biases. The progressive societies were founded on objectivity and rational choices. It is most desirable in the 21st Century to fight globally against fake and alternative truths. It is the world’s responsibility to regulate the medium.

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