While seeing what my relatives are up to is fun, the best aspect of the Internet is, by far in my opinion, having the world at your fingertips- anything and everything you could possibly want to know, the exact minute you want to know it. And you thought I was going to say our ability to watch cute cat videos.
However, our voracious appetite for that now instantaneous knowledge is nearly insatiable. It's almost as if so much is available to us, more than we can possibly consume, that we allow it to be reduced down to a twitter feed of 140 characters apiece, a brief two-line intro of the story, or maybe even just a short headline that really doesn't tell us anything of substance. During my time at CENTCOM, I heard a saying that captures this idea- His knowledge on that topic is only PowerPoint deep.
I'm writing this on a Surface Pro 3 which has this cool pen/stylus thing that allows me to just click a link and the article, or an excerpt from it, is saved to a program for later. Ooh, I just had a flashback to Lex's 'Tech Lust!' Usually after doing what ever work I have, and by work I mean email and Facebook, I'll go through the captured articles and read whatever it was that seemed interesting to me as I scanned the headlines and scrolled through Facebook.
However, notice that I said usually. There have been countless days, and even more countless articles that just piled up to the point where I just had to clear the queue and start over- Can't find the time to read them all. I know I'm not alone, but I expect there are far too many people out there that don't even bother to click the links- scanning the headline only. With 24 hour news, thousands of new sources, and hundreds of thousands of stories available to us, we are mostly fed our news in small bites that really serve only to tease us with the story- not all of it, but just enough to make us feel like we're in the know, or that we're intelligent enough to speak about the subject. Chances are, many people are also too distracted by fake, overly packaged, or irrelevant news that they never get to a deeper understanding of real and important stories.
Not to say that even the stories at the links are all that great either. A site I used to like- the Independent Journal Review (or IJR), once a decent source for conservative news, has degraded to mere click-bait with many "stories" that are more suitable for hard-up teen-aged boys.
When I was a kid, my family subscribed to the San Diego Evening Tribune. My dad would grab the paper after he got home from work and hand me the comics. He'd read the paper until dinner, then watch TV afterwards. We only had a handful of channels so he'd often go back to the paper and read what he'd missed.
Flash forward 40 years and I have over 400 channels in my cable package and a San Diego Union Tribune that might be 30 pages on a busy news day. And of course, I have a high speed Internet connection with countless sites bookmarked. There's also a bunch of great shows and networks that my folks didn't have in the 70s. I could easily spend all my free-time on entertainment, but I know I need to be more educated than that, so I try to blend in a sufficient amount of current events news into my day.
I think I'm in the minority in that however- Not so much within the readership here on the Chant, but definitely among voters here in the US. It just seems like there so much access to news via technology, that people can't, or just don't want to focus on the deeper issues that affect everyone. Through that technology, we're more susceptible to sensational headlines since we don't have the time to get to everything that's available. And far too many people want to be entertained by their news, vice educated.
I think the current interest in Indiana's new law is reflective of that. First off, it's Indiana- a single state in the Union that had passed a law that probably doesn't affect you and me who live in the other 49 states. Second, if you are thinking that this is horrible for (insert race/gender/cause/religion here), then you are buying into the hype that someone is so egregiously affected by any of this, that we should all rush to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram to loudly and publicly voice our displeasure. That's not to say that a particular religion, or demographic isn't butt-hurt by the lack of a law, the law itself, or the fix to the law, but in my humble and shall I dare-say common-sense viewpoint, none of this had to occur in the first place.
Indiana passed a law to enforce something that's already guaranteed in the US Constitution! I'm sure you've all seen this sign in businesses before- "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone." While that doesn't allow an owner to refuse on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin, he or she can ask patrons to leave who aren't clean, dressed appropriately, etc.
"In most cases, refusal of service is warranted where a customer’s presence detracts from the safety, welfare, and well-being of other patrons and the restaurant itself. Source .So if their presence (and their order) detracts from the restaurant itself, and I think that can be extrapolated from the owner's religious beliefs, then this point is moot- it's allowed in the constitution. I'm not saying a restaurant can or should refuse to feed a gay couple, but there are religions that believe that participation in acts contrary to their beliefs, such as providing birth control, attending a gay son or daughter's wedding, or baking a cake for said wedding, is in direct conflict with the proper practice of that religion. And the state can't do anything "prohibiting the free exercise thereof." I think this would supersede the right of a person to order a certain cake- there are other bakers, but there aren't alternate ways to practice ones religion.
Now there's a whole bunch of self-victimization going on with this and similar issues. Why a gay couple would even want an objecting bakery to share in what they probably consider the most important day of their life, is beyond me. I know I wouldn't trust a business to serve me if I knew they didn't share my values. I think it's because these individuals just want to make a stand, to force someone to accept them, and they just want to play the victim. On a similar vein, are these bakeries going to get sued? I expect not.
It's the same way with all sorts of other news items these days. We're inundated with race issues, poor treatment of Veterans, the use of the word "retarded," childhood bullying, etc. that seem to be constantly in the headlines. So much of our political discourse these days surrounds the issue of whether or not someone is offended. Because of social media and cell phone videos, there are a thousand instances of these discriminatory issues in our faces every week, and a million people who are able to become offended by what happened after the fact.
These "offended" people are really just intolerant. Intolerant of the natural differences between people, whether they be religion, beliefs, culture, upbringing, education, opinion, or any other characteristics we might have.
|Rick Ramirez- Investors Business Daily|
Too many people keep looking for ways to be offended. I just try to stay above it all. Sure, a Veteran being yelled at by a health care worker, or a child being bullied or called retarded is wrong, but I'm not the victim. I'm not offended, because it wasn't directed at me. Even if it was, I just remind myself that there are a lot of assholes in this world, and if I let every one of them get to me, I'd be constantly upset. We can't let others have the power over us to make us feel offended. We all need to rise above the cacophony of offended people, realizing that we don't need to add to the volume. We need take the higher road when there almost always is one, and leave (or improve) the political discourse to issues of real substance.
For example, the economy sucked during the last election, and still does if you look deep enough, but the "war on women," immigration, gay rights, and health care were constantly in the news. The economy wasn't exactly a bit player, but our massive deficit sure was, and this affects every one of us, and will for a hundred years, but low information voters didn't seem to care- probably distracted by issues that are more offensive and divisive.
The term "bread and circuses" was used here on the Chant last week. It seems fitting for this post as well. The massive amount of info at our fingertips by using the Internet, (and the fun, but useless material that we allow to distract us) is irrelevant if we refuse to look up from our screens to see and interact with the real world that that info is describing.
Speaking of bread and circuses- Look, another adorable cat video!
To be able to disagree is the essence of civilization. To yearn for complete agreement, utter unanimity in ideas and ideals, is the beginning of lockstep savagery. -Brooke McEldowney