21 May 2012

Un-Ringing Bells and I Hate the Media

I could get up every day and share examples with you on why I deplore the media. The media was all over the Trayvon Martin shooting and the public jumped to conclusions. Some reporters got their 15 minutes of fame and proved the old adage, "There's a sucker born every minute."  Which, by the way, P.T. Barnum may never have said....there's evidence the media got it wrong.   Ugh! media.

The media prints it, the television airs it and we, the people,  respond like marionettes having our strings pulled. Only now, now that the race card has been played and folks last nerves been stepped on, are we beginning to hear the facts.  The voice screaming for help? Likely Mr. Zimmerman's. Photographs of a bruised and swollen face?  Mr. Zimmerman's.  Cut to the back of the head? Mr. Zimmerman's. Technology, sensationalism and the lack of critical thinking skills are a dangerous combination. Young Trayvon's family are due the greatest empathy we can give them.  But what about Mr. Zimmerman and his? You can't unring a bell that's clanging.  What if the media had let the law enforcement agencies do their job before they printed something that would get the entire country stirred up?  Who is going to apologize to the two families for having their emotions jerked around like they were in a yo-yo competition?  Instant access to the news has only increased the chance for error and harm.

Here's the thing though. We, the people,  are all culpable in these instances where conclusions are jumped to. We support the media. We snap at their lures. We point our thumbs up and down at our whim when the media pits two or more in opposition to one another. We let them control our emotions and hence, our opinions. We, the people, are foolish to do so, but we've been fools for years. The media plays the melody and we dance.

It is possible to come to different conclusions based on the same evidence. I am not talking about disagreeing in how the dots are connected. I am talking about the rush to get the scoop and sensationalize the story for the sake of a buck. The almighty dollar.  The love of money is wreaks havoc in all aspects of our lives. I guess I am hoping for a Vulcan owned and operated newspaper or news show.  Give me the facts and let me decide what I think about them.  Editorials are OK after the facts are in and they should be labeled as such.  We the people need to think before we react when we hear or read this stuff.  Let's have opinions born of facts for a change. Then, let's see if we can agree on how to connect the dots.

Speaking of which, I don't mind a bit when people disagree with me as long as they do it honestly. What I mind is people "feeling" their way to a position they can't defend and then calling me intolerant or ignorant because I call them on it. Emotions and critical thinking are not synonymous. Being passionate is not the same thing as being logical.  When you can be both about an issue, it is a brilliant thing to behold. Being honest enough to admit your emotions are clouding your judgement... that's humility at its finest.  That's the type of conversation I want to have with people.  I don't want to be reduced to ad hominem attacks. Nor do I want to joust with straw  men.  Give me something to think about and quit being ticked at me if I return the favor.

No comments: