Reasoning with Madness
"This is a barbaric yawp, and it will be sounded over the roofs of the world."
Mainstream news over the last 20 years (or more) regularly shuns data/trends/details in favor of "weird" or anecdotal pieces that don't really reflect reality in any significant way, but lean more toward the "hmm, that's wild" approach, giving audiences the perception that the world is going mad. In the news biz they call these shit pieces "kicker" stories. The last piece of TV news, the entire selection of stories of any given yuck yuck radio morning show. It's the grocery store magazine cover. It's trash. It's fast food news. It's propaganda.
The internet media has refined this even further with "clickbait" news, that pushes the freakshow kicker story into hyperdrive.
Facebook and Twitter has taken that approach to a whole new level, refining this fast food garbage news even more by giving the least qualified in society the ability to share "news" to diehard, locked-in micro audiences built by nefarious "activists" and algorithms (based on tastes and online behavior) that are nothing more than an echo chamber of pre-determined and pre-qualified "fans".
Information is fuel, just as food. Garbage in, garbage out. Mainstream media is like mainstream food. CNN and Fox News are the burger chains of information. You're not getting decent information, you're getting manufactured trash not designed for education, but entertainment. It's punditry over reporting.
If journalism is to survive in the digital age, it must shun the urge to gain more traffic (the modern equivalent of letting sales determine headlines)...it must shun click bait practices and blatant bias (propaganda) and focus on organic information: Data, Trends, Information, Education, Details, Transparency, Balance, Honesty and Objectivity.
But even more important, social MEDIA platforms must also be held accountable for the services they provide. While I generally groan at government regulation, it has become hellishly clear that there must be some agency built to play watchdog to these "speech platforms", which have all clearly done a terrible job of maintaining quality and truth.
The worst part is all of these platforms have taken zero responsibility for the content they allow and let gain traction (using the algorithms they built). Zuckerberg and the rest of them must be held accountable for the MEDIA their social MEDIA platforms propagate. If newspapers, television stations, radio stations and magazines (aka traditional MEDIA) outlets, who hire and employ professional journalists, have to be held accountable for the content they publish (by maintaining standards, hiring various types and layers of editors, copy editors, etc) then social MEDIA can no longer be given a free pass.
It takes years to become a qualified journalist and there are many things to know before you get the responsibility to become an actual reporter. MAGA Marcy and her freedom eagle blog links written by Russian disinformation agents shouldn't be considered in the same boat as the Washington Post, but that's where the fuck we are right now, thanks to social MEDIA.
If it's social MEDIA, then it must implement the same protections, accountability and responsibility that tradition media outlets have in place. And there should be a governing body that this new MEDIA platform must answer to. It's clear to anyone with more than 10 contacts on any given social MEDIA platform that this is a real problem and gives our current administration the ability to discredit the entire media environment with two 3rd grade words: FAKE NEWS.
One of the main problems, as demonstrated in the confrontations of Zuckerberg and Co by our dusty, decrepit, out-of-touch representatives in Congress, is these fossils have no fucking idea what they're talking about, nor do they even understand the basic concepts that exist across any given social media. They are wildly out of touch and completely out of their element. And the ones who are, take full advantage of the ignorance of their peers and the people they represent to personally profit from the shell game that's pumping billions into social MEDIA and they don't want to lose their precious stocks and investment portfolios.
It's time we stand up to this bullshit as a society and stop letting our brains turn to shit with the never-ending scrolling feed of bullshit that is allowed in these digital flea markets. It's time quality information and news make a comeback and we pride ourselves on being an INFORMED population, not a distracted, mislead society fed propaganda and trash.
Part of me doubts this will ever be addressed properly, but part of me sees glimmers of hope in the coming generation who DO understand the difference between an email and social media handle. But time will tell. Until then, I shall continue to scrub my feeds and friends lists of ignorant, hateful fucks who pride themselves on their trolling tactics and the propaganda peddlers who share bullshit information.
I have grown to appreciate the many values of social media, so I'm not going to be the guy who says "GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA AND ABANDON IT FOREVER" like some crotchety codger who doesn't understand modern society.
But we can do better. We can all do better.
So many times I sit down to write about the state of affairs in this country, and I get totally locked up. I don't know where to begin, what to do or where to find the center of things. I have a hard time even wanting to tackle some of these issues.
I've had friends reach out and ask me why I've been silent for so long. The short answer is I've been busy. Which seems like a cop out. And maybe it is.
But I've been busy getting my own life, my own house in order (figuratively and literally). Building a foundation and focusing on my own future before I get spread too thin like I often do.
Time is the only true finite thing we have in this life. It's the one thing we never get back once it's lost. So I've been very careful with the time I give away these days. Every day I have less of the only thing I can't get back. So I try to invest it properly.
But this morning I sat down again to write some thoughts out, and I found myself getting angry. Like crippling angry. I had to stop. Think of something else. Play some music. Sit back for a minute and breathe. I am so fucking mad at what's happening in America and I don't even know where to begin.
While my own personal reality is getting better with time and thought and action and determination, it really feels like America is being torn apart. And personally, there will be a plateau in my own life where I can once again get involved like I've been in the past.
But there are so many battles to choose. There are so many horrific things to address and it will take an entire generation to unify and stand up against all of these things. From war to foreign interference in our elections, from civil rights to corruption, climate change to reproductive rights, economic disparity to racism to the constant daily erosion of the very foundations of the American government and our way of life to the very essence of who we are as a nation...where does one even start?
That's what I struggle with. When the demands are so high and the implications of your actions so crucial to get right, it can be downright overwhelming.
But something I have found crucial to tackling any of this: Education. We must educate ourselves. I'm not talking just going to school or racking up hellish debt from a degree. I'm talking constant learning. We must devour knowledge and take it upon ourselves to seek out not WHAT to think....but HOW to think.
Be the referee, not the player.
What's the game? What's the rules?
I used to be a hack writer when I was younger. Then I entered a journalism program at UO and learned HOW to write. I already knew WHAT I wanted to write about. But I needed to know HOW to do it.
The best teachers I've ever had, from middle school algebra teachers to high school history teachers to college philosophy and economics professors...they all all had one thing in common: They never taught me WHAT to think. They taught me to HOW to think.
This is a huge lesson to embrace. Knowing how to think about something instead of what to think is the difference between true empowerment and basic servitude.
That's what I meditate on as I move into the next realm and the battles that must be fought in the coming years.
Many of these issues will not fix themselves. They will take us all to be involved and present. I have faith in us as a people. I have seen our nation rise together a few times in my life personally.
Our history is inundated by our constant belief in doing the right thing, and overcoming horror and tragedy to grow again.
It can happen still.
Who Am I?
I am Ahab.