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A Sliver of Understanding

Howell Hurst People, People Politics


How to make any sense at all from the many thousands of comments broadcast day and night over Internet, TV, Newspapers, and Magazines has become almost impossible.

Daily, I check dozens of news websites worldwide: BBC for instance; and in the U.S, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX, plus many allegedly “alternative” sources. I keep coming up with the conclusion that this massive profusion of media are collectively delivering what one can only describe as Digital Anarchy.

Everyone everywhere has a different opinion today. It is the largest pot of viewpoints boiling on the largest bunch of media stoves ever before seen. The differences of opinion are so diverse and so individually self centered that little collective focus appears possible.

Another police killing of a Black man occurs, and again the divisive nature of our society is reconfirmed as mass crowds confront police armed to the teeth with military gear.

It feels like some kind of tipping point is approaching that is impossible to predict. Charlie Rose recently interviewed Breitbart’s Steve Bannon. Bannon and he eventually got into a mini-debate that froze into a simplistic verbal battle about what made America what it is.

The supposed topic under discussion was immigration. Rose proposed that immigrants have produced the resulting diversity that is the strength of our country. Bannon vehemently disagreed, proposing that citizens were the strength of the country.

So – the battle lines were drawn: immigration/citizens. They went on for minutes bandying this difference of opinion, landing finally: exactly nowhere. The battle between the two points of view simply just eventually wore itself out and they quit trying to reach a conclusion.

Instead, the topic gradually wound down into a whimper of disagreement, with both men smiling at one another and congenially moving on with the show, having reached no conclusion at all.

Simple Anarchy. That is what news has become: an entertainment circus with each different news medium tailoring its content to a specific audience. The dynamic of these shows is that of a circus. Or a zoo. I’m not sure which best describes them.

The feverish intensity of them is electrifying. Tempers seem to flare, but are almost always held in check, never quite reaching actual fist fights – but such physical boxing matches always seen just over the edge of sight and hearing.

Are we just supposed to enjoy them? Is it only our amusement that keeps us tuned to them? So that advertisers can get their messages to the largest number of us? I suspect this is all it has come down to.

One cannot listen to one of the news programs longer than a few moments, almost always less than five actual minutes, before the ubiquitous commercial interrupts, urging us to go buy more of something else: most commonly the latest “luxury” we absolutely cannot do without.

That we should be learning something from news that will help us function as citizens is lost in the fray of the advertising wars. As the debate blood pours forth, the next commercial or ad waits nearby in the wings to interrupt and convince us we desperately need whatever its seller is pushing.

Immigrants vs Citizens: what did Rose’s and Bannon’s different definitions mean? Nothing. The Rose/Bannon debate was not about meaning. It was theatre. It was drama. It was excitement. It was just the tickling of our emotions to sell us something else.

My most recent conclusion is that this ridiculous news phenomenon, produced with millions of dollars by already wealthy giant corporations dominating the marketplace, is the basic cause for the world being in the chaotic state it is.

It’s a very silly world we live in. Here in America, for sure, our addiction to consumerism has attracted us all into a complacency coupled with an inherent violence we all are coming to accept as just the way things are. Its our latest hot TV show.

This is a tenuous collective consciousness for a nation to accept as its norm. It produces an intellectual vulnerability that risks us becoming isolated from reality. Consequently, our present political identity as a nation is inchoate – utterly disordered.

We are not yet in America coalesced into a real country. We call ourselves a country, but we are still short of it. Our digital Anarchy is like the bubbles on the top of a pot of boiling water.

The bubbles just keep evaporating as we keep boiling ourselves down with our massive diversity of thought, trying to find the essence of ourselves, so we may move on with a renewed identity generally comfortable to us all.

I hope in our current Anarchy our boiling differences do not eventually run entirely dry and burn us all up in the bottom of our frenetic political pot.

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One comment on “A Sliver of Understanding

  1. It’s true, we have been the divided states of America for nearly 20 years, now. Our polarization is wasting our energy in conflict and adding to the decline of our society. It’s true that the news media is an anarchistic variety of hidden agendas and incessant propaganda with “spin” being the norm. Not among the news sources you mentioned are the thousands of talk radio shows in every city throughout The Heartland and The South that perpetuate a right wing conservative agenda, which supported Trump’s candidacy. The only way we can bring our country back together and become a progressive, modern society, once again, is for all of us to reach out to our opposites. Social media is the way things are done, nowadays, and how easy it is to connect with people from different states, different ethnic groups and different types of lifestyles. Try it; you’ll like it.

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