( A guest contribution to the blog, SundayScribblings . This week's topic: "In the News" )
I was channel surfing last night and happened upon the FoxNews show, Hanniday and Combs. It was evident to me in seconds as to why the news is of little interest to me anymore.
They had ultra conservative Republican Ann Coulter on the show. The show's hosts and the network's show before them, Keith Oberlin, were as Democrat, liberal, and anti-Bush as you can be. I detest labels. The problem with labels is that a label is an assumption. If you want to lead an unenlightened life, make a lot of assumptions. The labels that I just used describing the adversaries on the show probably aren't totally accurate. If one, like myself, that has such intolerance for labels is moved to draw a conclusion so quickly, you can only guess how blatant the stances of these warring factions were.
These two sides were not having a debate. They were having an argument. I have no room in my life for going out and looking for people arguing. You stumble across enough of those. Though their points may be erudite, these people of above average intelligence both appeared idiotic due to their method of presentation. I have little room in my life to seek out stupidity and hang around those that demean themselves intentionally by engaging in rhetoric like this. The blatancy of what was being sold was clearly evident to me. I figured this out in the flash of just one quick channel surf during a commercial from the show that I was watching.
People are trying to sell their argument. They pass it off as news. The terms liberal and conservative have only been learned by me in the last few years of my life. I went almost a half of a century of pulling this off. I never took a class in this. I never read a book about it. Sure, the topic has come up in things that I have encountered. My definition of these opposing tribes has been shaped mostly by observing the two sides going at it on the small screen.
Am I more intelligent for learning this? Am I a better person for picking up this knowledge? Does having this knowledge make me happier and better equipped to help the world as I watch these types of pseudo-news programs? No. It has merely trained me to make labels....the very item that is one of the most damaging things you can do to another human being.
If shows like these are so obvious, how much more discrete are the "real" news shows and newspapers in adding their view of the incidents that happen all over the world? Perhaps my age has outweighed my indifference in my attempt to avoid judging and stereotyping others. If you are exposed to the media long enough, you can't help but be drawn in.
Our local paper, the Sacramento Bee, ran a headline news story the other day. This was front page with a font that was only slightly smaller than the biggest one that they would ever run. It was rivaling "Pearl Harbor Attacked" in it's size. Did a famous person die? Did a major news event happen? I will let you be the judge. The headline was something along these lines: "Subprime Lending Crisis May Cripple Area Home Values"
First, when did something that may happen that I can do nothing about become a news item...let alone a front page story? The article went on to trash the home lending industry. When you got done, you would think that the entire industry takes advantage of people. You would be led to believe it is the cause of your home values declining due to people being granted credit that were not able to make their monthly obligations which results in foreclosure. The truth is that some of these people did get credit. The fact is that, because this happened, home prices rose as well. Investors saw the fervor and jumped in. Values rose much more quickly due to the increased demand that this type of lending brought on. The bubble burst and now values are returning to the place where they should have been had the phenomenon not happened. I am not advocating one side or the other. Homeownership became available to many people that it would have otherwise not been presented to. Those people are still in their homes today. They are benefitting from being able to excercise their right of homeownership. The minority are the ones facing foreclosure.
I am in the lending industry. This is one area where I see what happened. I have more access to fact than the media does because I was on the front lines. I lived through it. The distortions that are being played out around this topic have led me to adopt the final conclusion that most of us know. The media has come to exist to sell the media. What other topics does it grossly distort? Am I really unintelligent if I don't have an opinion on whether Nancy Pelosi should be in Syria? If someone does think that about me, it is probably just their need to label me so they can feel more intelligent about themselves. I don't need to play this game. It is a lot of talk without anyone doing anything about it.
In The News. If it is a fact, I am interested. If it is a distortion, I would rather read a fairy tale. I am too weary to try to maintain and upkeep the filters that are required to tell the difference. The media is no different than alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes. It seems enjoyable while you do it but the addiction that is formed by the engagement is too dangerous for my health to partake in. I have better things to do.