We are a people easily led. We trust in our wise ones, like idolators bowing down to stones, believing in them without a moment’s thought. Simply because they appear to be our esteemed superiors, steeped as they are in apparent knowledge, we hang on their every word, believing in whatever they tell us.
Who dares challenge the respected teacher with their 200,000 Facebook followers and 40,000 Twitter subscribers? Rather, we amplify them, sharing and retweeting their posts ad infinitum. Yes, who in their right mind would challenge that pious leader of opinion, with their 2 million Facebook followers and 700,000 Twitter subscribers? Only an imbecile and a fool, surely? And that leader of men, with 20 million followers on social media? Only the suicidal!
But it pays to be cynical. Not for the sake of it, but to get closer to the truth. Not to forever be a doubter, but to be just inquisitive enough to avoid being manipulated in the service of a unjust causes. Beware of manufactured controversies: probe and investigate what may lie behind them, and avoid being taken for a ride. Beware of smokescreens capitalising on populist causes and mass sentiment. Open your search engine, filter results by time, region and language — look for the story behind the story. Sometimes you will be surprised.
Don’t be so easily led by these leaders of men. Don’t just take their calculated words on face value. Be prepared to ask difficult questions, and walk alone.