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Monday, 23 June 2014

The Trouble With News Via Sound Bite

Skimming along the surface of information, we, all of us, needing to depend on second hand information as it were, read or hear a few words, a single word, and don't know what to think, what to believe.
A headline, a tweet, a crawl across the bottom of the screen on a "news" station?

Communication by such limited means is useless -- how many times has someone demanded your opinion on something, X should do Y, right?.... I mean, right? or probably in reality, tried to sound you out in hopes you affirm his own stance, when it is clear that he knows no more about the subject at hand than can be contained in 140 characters.

Well, [my favorite singer] says so, so right?
The sports "hero" I follow says that....

And to some extent, this is the way human society has to work - no one can be everywhere and witness everything and be aware of all human knowledge and look into each event that interests or effects him, we have to take most of what we "know" on trust.
People often seem perturbed when I say that "All I know about [whatever] is what I just heard on [name the tv channel] so I really couldn't say."

And I have certainly been upset with myself when I have had a knee-jerk reaction to a story, formed an "opinion" only to find out that it was presented in a completely false way. Heck,  headlines are often flat out contradicted by the details in a story.

So your call really has to be, whom do you trust?
Matt Drudge? Diane Sawyer? Lady Gaga?
What organization, the New York Times? Comedy Central? Pravda?
What governing body, the UN? the Obama administration? the government of Kim Jong Un? the Republican Caucus?

And the way news is delivered, blurring into infotainment, and relying on constant sizzle even when there's no steak to lure consumers, (and that is what we are, "consumers" of information,) compounds the difficulty.

The shallowness and lack of detail that results from the purveyors' dread of the consumers' short attention span leads to a reliance on buzzwords and bullet points that gives an even more skewed picture of what is being presented.

Case in point, a couple months ago the received wisdom was that Brendan Eich was a "homophobe" because a few years ago he gave a donation to a political campaign in support of the, apparently shockingly new to some citizens, opinion that “Only marriage between a man and a woman [should be] valid or recognized in California.”
Frankly, I only became aware because first, some sites I regularly  go to online would not allow me access via Mozilla Firefox, my usual browser, and then after Eich was fired stepped down, other sites wouldn't let me on with Firefox.

The firing resignation bothered me, because the logical outcome, if those responsible for Eich's ouster get their way, seemed to me to be that since at least 2 out of 5 Americans feel the same way, (and why is that "homophobic"? wouldn't it be just as logical to claim it was "polygamiphobic"? I digress,) the nation should be headed for an unemployment rate of 40%.

That doesn't seem like a good plan.

I read a bit about a brouhaha over a Georgian operatic soprano, cut loose from an Australian production because of "homophobic" comments.

Oh, great, here we go again.... but not really.
Because the sheer ugliness of what this woman said, the inhumanity of her applauding actual violence visited upon people is clearly "homophobia" -- but to apply the same word to someone acting in a civil manner in a civil society exercising his right to work for the recognition of a truth an article of belief that had been until very recently universally accepted is stupid.
Stupid and unfair.
And it devalues the word.

(Which, by the way, is, I believe, pretty close to one of the points a columnist with whom I seldom agree about ANYTHING was trying to make, [or should have been trying to make,]  in an otherwise pretty lame opinion piece --  applying the term "sexual assault" to a "micro-aggression" belittles genuine victims of rape and assault.)

But of course, to get back to my original point - how do I know the facts in the Tamar Iveri case as presented by Limelight are accurate?


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