At the same time, I bet you won't have any difficulty at all finding people who have an endless supply of opinions about all of those topics. These types of paradoxical realities make me wonder; how are people getting their information these days? And, what is the quality of the information people are receiving?
I think the answer is obvious. Many people, worldwide, are relying on social media to form their opinions about everything. This means reading a short article on Face Book, Twitter, etc., has come to somehow represent engaging in extensive research about the phenomenons happening in this world. And, because this practice has become normalized in most circumstances, it works in most instances because everyone has the same information from the same sources so no one has the ability to really challenge the most popular concepts on any type of cognitive level. In other words, critical analysis and thinking is operating at a dangerously low level. If people only possess the skills to read surface level analysis, which often isn't even well researched, then those same people will not possess the capacities and skills to evaluate information in critical ways that permits them to break down and properly assign credit or discredit to what they are reading. The danger of this is it becomes much easier under these circumstances to get people to believe what you want them to believe. And, for slick, experienced, and expert propagandists like the capitalists, this is a very dangerous trend for humanity.
The reason why reading books, not watching videos, not reading quick social media articles, should be the foundation for how people learn to digest information is because of the skill set you learn by reading books as opposed to the other methods. With social media fare, whether it be articles, videos, etc., your socialization is going to be reading and accepting the slant being presented in those mediums. This is especially true with videos, even documentary type presentations. This is true because if you are watching something, you are training your brain to allow the presentation to dictate the flow and and essence of the information you are receiving. Your brain learns to let the presentation determine for you what is happening and you never teach your brain how to make those determinations on its own. Reading social media articles is often not much better unless you are reading more analytical sources, but the chances of that happening are not good because if you study most of the social media article sources, they are filled with inaccuracies and underdeveloped analysis. The reason for this is the fast paced environment that social media exists in. Something happens like the elections in Kenya, the killing of U.S. green berets in Niger, the political situation in Catalina, protests against white supremacy in the U.S. When these things happen, the social media world has the pressure of responding immediately e.g. within hours. You are not going to be able to get the best scholarship under these fast paced circumstances.
Four years ago, as is often the case, when a book comes out that I'm very interested in, I buy it the day it comes out. In this instance, the book was "Stokely - A Life" the biography of the life of Kwame Ture, previously Stokely Carmichael, written by Peniel Joseph. Whether we are talking about someone who had little to no information about Kwame's life and contributions or someone like me who has detailed information about Kwame's existence, this book had a very strong basis in discussing Kwame's youth through his activism in the U.S. up to 1968. After that, the book displayed serious shortcomings in understanding Kwame's work in Africa and for African people worldwide. It took me three days to read the entire book and I spoke to all of my perspectives of this book in a review I published on this blog (and several other sources) entitled "Stokely - A Life Starts Strong, Crashes Hard." Now, regardless of whatever critiques I have of this biography, I was impressed with reading that the author had a research team that helped him study Kwame's life to produce material for the book. And, that process took years to complete. This is in sharp contrast to mere hours that most social media articles are produced from. The difference shows in the detailed and analytical way in which the book demonstrated its research up through 1968 (now, the lack of such focus the book displays after 1968 is more consistent with the low level of research we see in much coming through social media). Plus, the reason I am in the position to make a critical assessment of the book as I did isn't because I'm smarter and more highly skilled than anyone else. It can happen because my analysis of Kwame's life leading up to Joseph's book wasn't informed just by videos and quick hit articles. It was informed by the hundreds of pages of the comprehensive book "In Struggle" the history of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) by Claybourne Carson. "The River of No Return" the autobiography by Cleve Sellers, one of Kwame's comrades from SNCC. "The Making of Black Revolutionaries" the autobiography by James Forman, another SNCC comrade. Kwame's own autobiography "Ready for Revolution", and a number of other books on the civil rights and black power movement in the U.S., not to mention my time working with Kwame and my subsequent exposure through my organization, the All African People's Revolutionary Party (A-APRP), the organization Kwame helped spread throughout the world. I was able to read countless books on the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG) the organization Kwame contributed to along with the A-APRP for last 30 years of his life. Volumes of books like "Revolution, Culture, and Pan-Africanism", "Africa on the Move", and "Strategies and Tactics of the African Revolution" by Sekou Ture, along with the multitude of books by Kwame Nkrumah like "The Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare." The point is by the time Joseph's book came out in 2014, I had a very firm foundation of who Kwame Ture was, what work he did, how he did it, and what the assessment is of his work. Also, my decades of belonging to the A-APRP's work study process, where we read volume books and discuss and analyze them, gave me consistent practice in thinking more critically about everything I read, everything I watch, everything, I encounter. So, although I read social media sources and would never discourage anyone from reading anything, I know there is absolutely no way you can take your individual experience reading "soft" articles and have the same level of skills. You have a very limited foundation which makes that soft article much more likely to sway you. Since your practice is individual, you have no real practice engaging comprehensive material and debating it with others. The only check and balance you have with your process is whatever is floating around your head at the moment. It's hard to see how anyone can see the latter practice as having anything close to the level of legitimate quality as a process of studying volume books, and discussing them with others within the context of the on the ground struggle for justice and liberation. Here's an example. About a year ago, I was introduced to a young African who upon hearing Kwame Ture's name launched into a tirade about how Kwame sold us out to the U.S. government e.g. Kwame was a snitch. Having the foundation I have, I knew immediately what this young African was referencing. I asked him where he got his information. Social media sources. Surprise. I then proceeded to explain in great detail the Federal Bureau of Investigation induced campaign against Kwame and others that produced the lie about his testimony to the House of Un-American Activities in 1970. I gave him my sources which included a long series of books including "The FBI's Secret War against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement." The young African was humble and very appreciative to my explanation, but this demonstrates the old saying that "a little information can be dangerous."
Finally, the current trend benefits no one besides the power structure because if people don't have the skills to dissect real information than what you have instead is an atmosphere where people who don't have the skills to analytically break down conditions will resort to making up that analysis. This is why you have Africans running around today in the U.S. talking about we don't come from Africa. I encountered one the other day. I asked this person where their family was from. They said Louisiana, a slave state. I asked them what their family name was. They said Johnson, a British name. I told them they are an African with a British name with a family from a slave state and they are telling me they are not from Africa? They told me we were here in the Western Hemisphere for thousands of years as a people. I responded by telling them I had no doubt some of us had traveled to this part of the world, but I couldn't point to one person who can trace their roots that way, but everyone I know has the same history they and I have, one that traveled through the transatlantic slave trade. With no real foundation of comprehensive study and analysis. No skills to evaluate what two or more opposing sides are saying and no abilities to ascertain what constitutes a true path, there is a clear danger of creating a generation of people who have no choice except to accept, at least on some level, whatever is being projected at them.
The good news is books are everywhere and there is plenty of energy to engage the issues of the day. The path forward cannot be one of convenience and quick answers. That's fool's gold. There is only one solution. Join an organization engaged in struggling for justice because you cannot do it as an individual. If you can, I wish you would hurry up and get it done! So, clearly, you cannot. So, join an organization and/or make sure the organization you have isn't just telling people what to think. Institute that analytical study process, create a booklist, and get to work. Tie your reading with action designed to get results and if we all start doing this, before long we can bring up a new standard where honest and principled intellectualism is respected as the vehicle it should be to right a wronged ship. Reading volume books is harder, longer, and much more rigorous, but it will help you get more (either way) out of your social media information which at best, can only be supplemental reading to whatever subject you are addressing.