01 August 2012

Ludicrous Speed

In my daily quest to sift through the dirt that passes for journalism these days, I stumbled upon this video, in which Charles Krauthammer argues that Mitt Romney did not flub his comments while on his overseas trip. Of course team Obama disagrees and wants to give us stop action and play by play commentary on what they consider gaffes of near biblical proportion. OK, perhaps I am exaggerating a tiny bit, but isn't that what we all do when we want to make a point? (If you're unfamiliar with the situation you can read about it here.) To be fair, team Romney is going to do the same while critiquing President Obama. It is a tit for tat, "Oh yeah? Take that!" world we live in.

I am a fairly pensive woman. Recently I have been ruminating about how flawed we are at communicating. Look at what happened in Eden. Satan asked a simple question, Eve embellished her answer and the Fall resulted. I have noticed and how easily people, including yours truly, exaggerate and embellish without pausing to think of the consequences. I am not talking about spinning a good yarn or using exaggeration in humor. I am talking the more subtle ways we exaggerate. We use words with frightening carelessness in the most mundane situations. When the pressure is on we're likely to say anything to get out from under it. No wonder the bible warns us where there are many words sin is not absent (Proverbs 10:19). Working to find the truth is difficult. Working to report the truth even harder because despite our best efforts most of us are shoddy communicators. Partially to blame is the speed with which we can communicate.

Have you read something written a hundred years ago? Did you need a dictionary? Did you think you'd caught the gist of things until you looked up the word? Are you able to pinpoint the difference between being sardonic and sarcastic or do those nuances escape you? Have you ever considered how easily the wrong word can be used but it sounds right to your ears?

Words evoke emotion. Words define position. Words provide comfort and hope. Words crush spirits. Words come flying out of our mouths and keyboards like we're firing automatic weaponry in an action film. Few of us are precision marksmen. Oh we hit something now and again but a blunderbuss scatters a pattern of projectiles to ensure contact of some kind.

I thoroughly enjoy the Internet, social media, my smart phone, my satellite radio and television channels. I very much appreciate the wordsmiths out there choosing their tools carefully and using them with precision. I am elated when I find a journalist with integrity and the ability to elucidate without pontificating. I haven't been elated in a very long time. Journalists provide more opinion than facts. Journalism should be more than editorializing. When I want editorials I know where to find them.

Years ago when I was a volunteer firefighter I attended some training wherein the instructor warned us that the calls we would find the most difficult and where we were most likely to make catastrophic mistakes, were the calls that would occur closest to the station. We need time to process information and take inventory of what we know. Those few minutes on the tailboard (yes it was so long ago firefighters stood on the tailboard with nothing but a hose strap for safety) would allow us to clear our minds and think about the task at hand. During the six or so years I was involved with the fire department I found the trainer was spot on in his assessment.

We are bombarded with important information every day. It comes at us so fast and furiously it is difficult to process. The competition to be the first to report a story is fierce. Perhaps I should consider being merciful in my thoughts toward journalists. Communication speed has surpassed their ability to synthesize information and present it. When you factor in our cultural penchant for being entertained instead of educated, well there's a disaster of biblical proportions in the making.

That leads me to my last bit of rambling. As I considered all this I couldn't help but consider the time and place our Savior came, died and rose again. It was the right place and the right time for news to spread throughout the world. It would have been much easier to get the world's attention now. Instead, our Lord came when communication had higher standards than the rapidity with which a story could be spread.

We have made the jump to ludicrous speed, ladies and gentlemen. Don't bother to fasten your seat belts, only God can save us.

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