Archive for February 5th, 2010


Valueless Communication

February 5, 2010

It seems today, we have condensed communication beyond the point of brevity.  As a result, we live in a state of constant misunderstanding.  Regardless of form, our communication reduces to the shortest sound bite possible with only a five-second shelf life.  While this does allow for more sound bites, true knowledge is the price we pay.

We no longer devote time to understand the subjects that confront us.  Rather, we seek out information that supports a predetermined point of view, the result being a nation of people, compartmentalizing themselves from one another by their own unwillingness to engage differing opinions.  In other words, preaching to the choir.  It makes us smug and confrontational, allowing others to manipulate us for their own designs.

Part of the problem is the twenty-four hour news cycle.  It creates large spaces to fill.  One would think this lends itself to exploring knowledge in-depth; unfortunately, the opposite is true.  With news options always available, the noise level of rhetoric a particular stations uses must remain very high or the viewer simply does not engage.  Rather than go with quality in-depth reporting, we see flash without substance and news outlets only interested in self-preservation.

Fox News is the obvious example of media working to this end; they are by no means the only one.  Of course, according to Fox, they offer differing opinions.  The problem is the offer only extends to the point of ridicule with the objective of humiliating the presenter.  The best that can one can say for them – you know what you are getting when you watch.  MSNBC is the liberal opposite of conservative Fox.  With other news organizations, the manipulation is subtle but in there nonetheless.

While CNN follows this same basic format, they dress it up to be less bold and upfront and claim the middle ground.  Still, in the end, news organizations simply present headlines with no substance or true follow-up.  The goal is the same for all of them, hold market share regardless of its effect on the general population.  News organizations have staked out a claim and focus on only the portion of society within that claim.  They tailor the news to suit the audience.  News has become entertainment, nothing more.  It is no longer objective in nature, but merely opinion supported by facts “cherry-picked” from the whole of information available.  Edward R. Murrow must be turning in his grave.

In the end, news organizations are simply responding to the tastes of a public that cannot bother with details.  We seek out only the information that supports our opinions.  It is no wonder the nation is polarized more than ever before.  When we apply idioms like “family values,” and “true American” to a small scope of belief, the result will always end in belligerence, as this pits one group against another.  You do not gain understanding of geometry ending your education with adding and subtracting and claiming understanding of all forms of mathematics.  Nor will you understand complex issues only paying attention to headlines and shutting out in-depth knowledge, especially if it is dissenting.

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