Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Internet Civil War

As both a satirist and social commentator, one of the things I love about internet social networking is that it allows me to gain insight as to what people are thinking and feeling. Having “Friends” on Facebook with varying political leanings grants me the opportunity to see what both the Liberal left, and Conservative right have on their astigmatic, undiscerning minds. If it weren’t so pathetic, it would be downright hilarious to see how many fledgling Wingnuts* have diluted themselves into believing that they have chosen the side of socio/political righteousness, and how blindly they’ll adhere to their rigid ideologies.

Indignantly, those aspiring to cerebral mediocrity will post links to video snippets or an article originating from their favorite biased, sensibly questionable website as if to impart wisdom to the unaware. My best guess as to why anyone would consistently do this with such little payoff is because Americans are feeling increasingly helpless, and many are compensating by trying to control their little section of the ‘net… And of course capitalizing on this dynamic are MSNBC and FOX news who respond to our collective angst by offering their versions of good and evil to naive anxiety addled truth seekers .

The (de) evolution of the Cable “News” industry has steered it towards the commercially successful business model of prejudicial editorializing. Depending on whether one’s politics lean towards the left or right, MSNBS and FOX (respectively) offer the preferred flavor Kool-Aid so as to affirm one‘s preexisting socio/political inclinations. Presently, the battle for the hearts and minds of the ostensibly susceptible is being fought by the “prides” of each network, Keith Olberman and Glenn Beck, whose egomaniacal need for adoration comes at the expense of those who could benefit from an occasional dose of actual journalism .

As loved by their viewers are they are despised by the other’s, MSNBC’s Olberman and FOX’s Beck host the flagship shows in their respective networks fleet of Wingnut* programming. Like sirens on the open sea, they are both lyrical in their intonation, and beguiling to those predisposed to their message. With evangelical articulation they not only mesmerize audiences, but they create irrational devotion as to their network’s ideologies . As entertainers, they are brilliant. But as “news people” they range from occasionally astute, to irresponsible, factually ambiguous, ignorance encouraging, defamatory, and as some might even argue …inciting to cause violent outbursts among their faithful.

Of course, as any of their fanatical following will tell you, they can recognize all of these qualities in the editorialists on the network they don’t watch, but none in those who are brainwashing *them*. The devotees of Olberman and Beck have become gullible to the point that it’s almost as if they are losing to themselves in their own shell game.

It is difficult to recognize one’s own bias as to why we choose such slanted, philosophical programming … especially when circumstances inspire passion. In fact, in order to help viewers rationalize their own intolerance, both networks go so far as to claim to be “Fair and Balanced”, which anyone with the slightest bit of objectivity can identify as laughable. The reality is that both Olberman and Beck, along with the rest of the supporting pontiffs on cable news rarely even make the attempt at propriety. They have discovered that the path to economic success is to cater to an America that watches reality TV, and who responds to dogmatic, maniacal, race baiting, fear mongering ravings in lieu of news.

While objectivity is consistent with reason, usually it is the acumen of our life’s experience coupled with our own socio/political predilections that tends to shape our world view. To that extent, we are all vulnerable to charismatic speakers (up to a point) because humans are all flawed with subjectivity. But to make matters of social negotiation more difficult, we live in an age where we have so much access to information (and misinformation) … the prevailing trend is to seek out media that will affirm our own predispositions, rather than explore alternative viewpoints to help provide balance. Which is to say, that we often form our convictions before we allow for another perspective… which also makes us easy targets for seduction from the likes of Olberman and Beck.

If we allow ourselves to draw conclusions prior to properly gathering information, the bias of our predispositions will often determine the validity of whatever evidence is presented to us, not the credibility of the source. In keeping with the profitable trend of journalistic injudiciousness, many in the media will actually ignore information does not favor their affirmations…and people blindly jump on either band wagon totally unaware that they are being taken for a ride.

For reasonable, free thinking people, conclusions are drawn only after enough facts are gathered to make a rational determination. Even then, ideas must remain open to discussion, interpretation, and further disclosure of information. There has to be a willingness to change one’s assertion in the light of new evidence. Authenticity is a requirement when seeking social equity, even when the facts bear out uncomfortable truths. It is when myopic aspiration trumps a palpable state of being that ignorance is allowed to flourish…

What many are forgetting, is that the internet civil war in which they presently engaged is against other Americans. Both our sensibilities and suspicions are being taken advantage of by predatory Wingnuts*. The ideological polarization between Liberals and Conservatives is continuing to widen, and MSNBC and FOX wouldn’t have it any other way.

* Thanks to John Avlon of http://www.theDailyBeast.com for inventing the term “Wingnuts”

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