Hendrikus Horst
8 July 2019
The Vigilant

The Internet has brought together millions of voices in a single space, which has had many consequences on our information sharing and consumption habits. We are able to send instant messages to our friends and family, but also complete strangers. We can share virtually anything about our lives – text, images, and videos – and we also consume countless bits of information from others that share that information with us. This information is gathered not only by personal e-interactions, but also from various news websites, blogs, forums and numerous other online applications. In addition to legacy modes of information, such as television, radio, and newspaper, the Internet overwhelms us with information every day, and what we remember is now the burden of us, the individual.

We are the ones today that decide what information we consume, ignore, share, and in the end, believe is factual. When considering the countless news platforms, 24-hour news cycle, blogs, forums, social media accounts, and interactions on & offline, it is easy to understand why knowing what is factual is a difficult task. And this brings us to the problem of ‘information’ today.


The Problems

Countless voices online have created variants of information that may not be factual. There is misinformation, information that is misleading or wrong that may or may not be intentional, but also disinformation, which actively misleads the consumer to create uncertainty about facts. Even the most vigilant among us has difficulty discerning fact from fiction at times and is not something that should be underestimated.

The second problem is the deep-rooted division that is created with click-bait titles, and the framing of information. This is especially true on social media platforms, where limitations beg for generalized statements and shallow after-thoughts. This has consequences on a personal, and societal level, which is reflected in political tensions around the world.  

The third problem concerns itself with mainstream news outlets and their decision-making processes regarding what is ‘news-worthy’ and what is not important. This tends to skew how we view the world. For instance, if we only read about violent crimes, then we would see the world as a worse place than if we only read about royal weddings. The same issue arises in the over-reporting of terrorist attacks and views on migrants and refugees.

The last, but not least is the issue of the creation of helplessness after reading information. There are a multitude of organizations out there today that; help relieve victims of violence, clean the oceans from plastic, aid refugees, fight national and international crime, preserve nature, etc. If the information begs for a response, then it should be available to the reader, and on many occasions, this is missing. Knowledge is great but doing something with that knowledge is objectively better.


The Solution

There is no cure-all when it comes to the previously-mentioned problems. The online voices, good or bad, will continue to persist along with the harmful framing of information. News outlets are not perfect, but as time goes on, they will improve. As for the consumer of information, how we see information will help mitigate the problems stated above and prevent divisions against one another and our frustration with it. Writing about and sharing information that is objective while creating understanding of the counteracting parties has the potential to change how and where we consume information. We are all making numerous decisions every day that requires certainty in information and the only way forward is to find that certainty with each other.


Our Goal

It is not our goal to be the ultimate truth online, because we know it does not exist. Information at times is fluid and perspective matters. This platform wishes to create greater awareness on not just topics, but also on the opposing sides if there are any. This awareness will hopefully lead to greater understanding. We are all exploring the world together, and at times we forget that about the other. Admittedly, it can be frustrating, and even harmful to our relationships and ourselves when we don’t see eye to eye on certain issues. To prevent this, we set information apart from us as individuals and see it as something that does change, can be obtained, but does not define us.

We would also like to give guidance and provoke action when it is needed. We are not here to beg for money or do so for special interests, but instead will provide links or contact information for organizations associated with the information written about. There are many ways to change the world. Take your pick. 

Lastly, we want to give you 'feels'. We know that writing informative, objective content stimulates the brain and leaves you not only informed, but also happier. And that is exactly what we want. :)