I am using Facebook as if it were my blog now, which feels scattered, ineffectual and disingenuous, especially with some bleak attempts (as they are) at thoughtful discourse mixed in with what-are-you-doing-right-now sorts of communiques. (“My puppy wagged his tail at me and I gave him a bone. Brought warm fuzzies to my heart. Now I think I’ll go get a latte.”)
This, even though I think we have to see this social media thing out. To spurn new technology is not the answer; finding a local Moses to help you navigate through the new technology is perhaps the real task. (Of course the “Children of Israel” were lost for 40 years in Sinai, so perhaps there’s a cautionary tale there about following just anyone.)
So… the task at hand this morning, as I see it, is to ponder again on the state of the American electorate after a majority of Democratic representatives passed/rammed the health care reform bill/Obamacare through the House on Sunday. Is it needed reform or a government take over?
How long will I feel the need to continue perpetuating the bi-polar political discourse in this country by using obfuscating slashes: passed/rammed; reform bill/Obamacare; needed/take over? Binaries are what we live for it would seem. Even journalists, who pride themselves on, if not objectivity then fairness, simply seem to be playing ping pong with opinions in their copy– first this opinion followed by a countering opinion, with very little care about shedding light on the subject. In illuminating the issue. In choosing credible sources.
In the age of Facebook everyone’s opinion, because it’s instantly publishable and distributable, is legitimate. Most journalists now avoid fact and have become simply the lunch ladies of Americans’ opinions–just keep slinging the hash down on those compartmentalized plastic trays, first this opinion, then this counter-opinion.
Maybe I’ve run up against the limits of my own tolerance. But I don’t think that it is the case that the sea of opinion is the only platform from which meaningful conversation (and eventually policy) can emerge. When I was a stage critic and a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, the mantra was “the least important part of the play review is the critic’s judgment as to whether it was good or bad, worthwhile or a waste of time.) And yet…the thumbs up/thumbs down is what most readers jump to to find out. Even those inclined to want to understand what the play is about, its issues, its look, its feel, its nuance and yes even its strengths and weaknesses, are drawn to the icon, the rating stars, the judgment: good/bad.
If we don’t have a Moses who can help scoot us productively through the desert and to the promised land, what/who do we rely on?
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Copyright, David G. Pace, 2010