Media Trends, Facebook Censorship, and the Battle for Truth with Billy Hallowell
News media and social media wield immense influence in shaping cultural norms and values. News outlets can set the agenda by highlighting specific issues, while social media amplifies these narratives and facilitates rapid dissemination. The constant flow of information shapes public opinion, driving cultural shifts and altering societal perspectives. Both news and social media emerge as transformative forces, capable of molding and redefining cultural landscapes in profound ways.
Billy Hallowell is a journalist and host for both CBN News and Faithwire. He has worked in the media for over two decades—entering the industry when he was just 15 years old. If anyone understand how the media impacts culture, it is him.
My Faith Votes’ CEO, Jason Yates, recently sat down with Billy to discuss current trends in the media as well as the media’s proliferation of polarization. Excerpts from this conversation are included below, but you won’t want to miss the full interview. You can view it here.
Social media has metastasized into an ever-present force, permeating daily life. It shapes communication, influences opinions, and profoundly impacts societal dynamics on a global scale. It can be an amazing tool, but it also has negative consequences. Regarding one of the biggest dangers of social media, Billy said the following:
Let me say this, because I think [it’s] one of the biggest problems that we have. It's amazing to watch all of the connectivity we have. We have all these tools— more than ever before in the history of mankind. And yet, people are more depressed and disconnected than ever before. And what we're seeing happen [is] silos of information where it's like, “Well, I'm only going to follow these people I agree with."
Which that's not necessarily bad in itself—to follow people you agree with…. And we saw it with the Fox and MSNBC dynamic. It sort of started there and it's moved into every arena now. So, you actually have people who have no understanding of what the other side might believe about an issue or a thing….
And you have a real, I think, crisis that's fueling the chaos and the division even more, because I can no longer say, “Well, I understand where you're coming from. I just disagree.” I don't even understand where you're coming from anymore because I've never seen it.
Limiting exposure to like-minded views creates echo chambers, reinforcing biases and inhibiting critical thinking. Diverse perspectives foster understanding and guard against intellectual stagnation. When Billy was asked what we can do to counter these echo chambers, he said:
I don't want to be like, “Oh… I'm going to go and listen to you and change my perspective.” But I should be able to listen to somebody and say, “I think your ideas are very bad, and I disagree with you, but I'm not going to attack you, name call, [or] hate you. I'm going to win with my ideas.”
So the solution is more ideas, not fewer. And I think what we're seeing happen is there's a real push for fewer ideas. “Only certain ideas are welcome here. We don't want to hear from you. We're going to destroy your pro-life display and we're going to go after you. We're going to cancel you in some other digital way that's really unhealthy.”
So I think the solution is for all of us, whether you are right or left or center, to say we are going to make a personal commitment, each of us, to be more open to hearing the other side, not so that [we] convert over to that side. But so we can better understand what we actually believe. Because how do I know what I believe if I don't even understand what they believe? Right? It refines us, I think, to understand the other side.
Lately, the news media and social media have accelerated the dissemination of misinformation, fostering widespread belief in false narratives. If left unchecked, it can negatively impact public discourse, trust, and democratic processes. Billy Hollowell suggests that it is up to us to question things, to call things for what they are, no matter who it is or which side of the aisle they sit on.
It doesn't matter who the candidate is or who the person is. I have been guilty of this. I know we all are. We have to take a step back and we have to say to ourselves, “Is this the truth?” And I think that word is really important. It's okay to say, “Hey, the candidate I like is not telling the truth about this thing or they're wrong about it. Or you know what? That was the wrong tactic to take.”
For some reason—maybe it's because we've siphoned everything off like we were talking about—we've become so tribal that we are not willing to do that. And if we are Christians, we're Christians first before we're a Democrat or a Republican or whatever. And so I believe we need to, and I need to do that—take a step back and assess it and have a real conversation about each piece of the puzzle. Because if we're out there endorsing things that aren't true or bypassing things that aren't true, and then we're outraged when the other side is doing something that's not true, we're not really acting in a Christian manner.
That doesn't mean you don't endorse somebody if you want or you don't take a position, but it does mean that you put your faith first always in all of this. I want to make sure I'm being accurate, when I'm talking about something, that I'm not spreading a conspiracy theory on either side… but that we're telling the truth.
There is no escaping the fact that we live a media saturated world. Now more than ever, we need to read, watch, and listen to the media with discerning hearts and minds. Click here to access 11 Tips for Discerning the News.
My Faith Votes—is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square.