Monday, April 02, 2018

Everything and nothing

Blogging has rarely been as difficult as it is at this moment. And I think the invaluable Richard "Wretchard" Fernandez has the proper explanation:
Perhaps never in human history has the average man been bombarded with so many stories.  Yet paradoxically, never has the public been in greater danger of strategic surprise. If it is caught at unawares, the reason for its blindness won't be lack of bandwidth but in all the things it imagined were important that weren't.
Consider what we talk about these days. We've spent the better part of the previous month contemplating the deep thoughts of a pneumatic porn star and a pencil-necked high school opportunist. Apparently we're supposed to hate Cambridge Analytica, which 99% of Americans hadn't heard of before March 1, and yes, I'm part of that 99%. Meanwhile, the Pope is reported to have said that hell doesn't exist, EPA head Scott Pruitt spends too much money and too little money.

Does your head spin? Do you float on the water or do you sink? And if you discuss the issues of the day, do you amplify or distort? I'm not certain. Are you?

8 comments:

jerrye92002 said...

Years ago I decided to stop watching network news, followed a year or two later by stopping reading the newspaper. Between the spelling, grammar and context errors, the rampant bias was bad for my health and it was taking two hours of every day just marking it up and fuming about it. Now I discover that I must be even more discriminating in what Internet "news" I follow. I have decided that I will no longer be following such ridiculous sideshow things as Stormy Daniels or the Russian collusion story. Oh, I will see the headlines, I can't help that, but I won't be clicking through unless some new, surprising truth is promised, e.g. Mueller gives up. Just as previously, it saves both time and frustration.

I will note the passing memes, like David Hogg's relevance to anything, and their irrelevance to anything resembling sensible policy. In fact, I will be extremely interested in any "news" that DOES bear a resemblance to sensible policy or the possibility of it. I may also note, just as a "study" and at the headline level, the many, many opportunities we are given for misinformation, disinformation, and uninformation.

jerrye92002 said...

By the way, I just checked Drudge, and of 71 stories, I clicked through to only two, while adding a new category to my "do not bother" list: People saying stupid stuff.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

I just assume that any network news or newspaper is lying to manipulate people. I used to think they were "biased." That's far too kind. For quite awhile I was frustrated that they were still able to influence people in spite of being so obviously dishonest. But now even that frustration is passing, partially because Trump's election proved that there's a lot of ignoring going on. But also because their continued, unreformed existence proves there is a kind of cultural rot going on that I can't control. Their malevolence isn't so much as evil scheme that is duping good people as it is ignorant and emotional people trying to act important; a good chunk of our society is like high school writ large.

R.A. Crankbait said...

Check out a video with Nobel Prize winning economist Sir Angus Deaton from Princeton entitled "Can the Government Make You Happy? Should it Try?". In it I learned that for the last 30+ years or so (IIRC), Gallup has been asking 3000 people a day, world-wide and at different economic levels, if they are happy. There are usually a few other qualifying questions as well, and one of the things they've learned is that when they ask Americans, most folks are generally pretty happy - unless they first ask them if they think the country is on the right track. Regardless of political orientation, the "happiness" level dropped dramatically if that question was asked before the happiness question instead of after.

What I take from this is that there folks on both sides (or really just the one side if you want to be paranoid about it) who have an interest in keeping people "unhappy", for their own purposes. Take, for example, the current "debates" over Planned Parenthood and the NRA. Neither the Second Amendment or (sadly) the "right" to abortion are likely to be eliminated any time soon - but the possibility that either one might be certainly churns a lot of butter. Why is that?

Bike Bubba said...

I was actually teaching my son last night what "clickbait" is, and I've spent a fair amount of time teaching all my kids about how to discern good data vs. bad. Takes a lot of work these days, that's for sure.

jerrye92002 said...

R.A. raises a good "secondary" point. AFAIK, liberals in general believe that government can make everything "perfect" for everybody. The reason they are so unhappy all the time is that their Utopia of total government control of everything has not been realized, and there are many people who actually are so stupid and evil that they won't go along with that fantasy! And conservatives are sometimes unhappy when they push too hard, so best to ignore their childish ramblings, and fight only when necessary. Or blog in opposition.

R.A. Crankbait said...

The only national "news" website I visit is ESPN, and I skip most of the columnists. They do tend to do a good job on the scores, though. I don't visit CNN or Fox, and while I visit the STrib and Pioneer Press sites a few times a day, it's mainly to see what they're covering and if there is a Comments section with the story. If I'm not sure what is happening, or which way to vote, I read these and then do the opposite.

If I want to get a better perspective of an international - or even national - story, I go to The Guardian and the Economist sites from the U.K.

jerrye92002 said...

Like you, I long ago gave up TV news and then newspapers, as a health measure. Beyond that, truth is where you find it, sometimes even here. :-)