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Setting Sane Boundaries within the Information Space

Photo by Markus Spiske via Pexels

Last updated on July 17, 2023

Editor’s Note: This article is a part of the Holos Project, a four-way partnership (ENGin, The Los Angeles Times Insider, Published Points of View, The Outspoken) established to empower the voices of Ukrainian students across the world through one-on-one journalism mentorship. This article was written by Marina Zayceva from Ukraine with the mentorship of Anushri Venkatesh from the United States. “Holos” is the Ukrainian word for “Voice”. 

Have you ever wondered about the possibility of being fooled by the history you’re learning? Or is it easier to distance yourself innocuously from this thought? It has always seemed that everything presented to us through news, media, or books has no choice but to be sincere or at least partially true. I successfully got rid of this opinion after the war in Ukraine began. 

Being a citizen of this Eastern European country not only makes me understand other similar Slavic languages, but also to observe how neighboring nations curse each other to damnation. It’s pretty sensitive to speculate on this topic because diverse resources of information influence everyone with their own truest truth. That worries me, it’s just enough to post controversial news and people are ready to rip one another’s throat. Literally it’s the best way to start an internal war, separate families, arouse anger, curses, and hostility.  

Let me give you an example of different perceptions: The Great Northern War (1708–1713) was a war between the Tsardom of Russia on one hand and the Swedish Empire on the other. Since the beginning of this war, Ukraine, as a satellite of the Tsardom of Russia, had been supplying Moscow troops with manpower, ammunition and food. With the arrival of Charles XII in Ukraine, hetman Ivan Mazepa concluded the Ukrainian-Swedish Alliance with the King and opposed Peter I. It was a period of political stability and economic growth in the Ukrainian Hetmanate, a flourishing of religious life, national culture, and education during the reign of Mazepa. Russian historiography has established the judgment of the hetman as the standard of a vain egoist and ambitious adventurer, who for the sake of personal gain sacrificed the interests of his people. So, a Ukrainian schooler knows Mazepa as a fighter for national interests, while a Russian student knows him as a traitor. It may seem trivial and not worth mentioning, but in a broader context the outcome is visible: those who didn’t figure out their personal persuasions would be unconditionally swallowed by the abyss of stranger’s judgements.

Talking about current events, the majority of Ukrainians condemn Russians who believed and supported the ‘noble’ goals, promises and appeals of their President. I understand this reaction, like don’t you see you’re trailed around the finger? But what if being a victim of this conflict doesn’t make Ukrainian authorities more sincere and honorable instead? What if there’s still a chance to benefit even from such a desperate situation with people dying from both sides? I have no intention to blame one concrete viewpoint because there’re a lot of culprits included. I just find it amusing and disappointing to call someone narrow-minded, but not to notice what’s going on under your own nose. 

Undoubtedly, it’s more comfortable to turn a blind eye on necessity of filtering the information we consume and metaphor into naїve children who will unconditionally heed more influential estimation. Though nowadays it’s difficult to state truth to power, there’s still an opportunity to stay conscious and develop self-awareness by improving analytical thinking. I offer all of us to become skeptical and incredulous in the moments of clash of views. Try to comprehend the opinions that’re hardly to name likable; try to realize where they come from; maybe your opponent’s just dumb or a misunderstood genius. Because through such denyings and diggings a chance to get familiar with one’s own perception rises. 

Wars and interpersonal arguments won’t leave our society, but the best thing about knowledge is that no one can take it from us. Bacteria evolved for a reason after all, so let’s not underestimate their centuries-old labor and stay intelligent.

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