I read an article in the New York Times yesterday. Ostensibly this article was about how the printed book is not dying as quickly as had been predicted. Yet that is not really where the article ended up. It was more about how we are changing books to suit the way we want to take in information. Nestled in this was a reference to a company that creates "smart cards" of information for consumer use. My favorite quote was this one:
" 'The ability to commit 10 or 15 hours to a book is going to be an increasingly fraught decision,' said Mr. Meyers, who came across Citia in the course of his research and found it so intriguing that he became its vice president for editorial and content innovation. 'So we need ways to liberate the ideas trapped inside them.' "
Really? Ideas need to be liberated from books in order to be understood? Oh I have so very many problems with that statement.
Ideas without context are just words. In order to decide if an idea is worthy or at the very least workable for you, you have to have context and examples and explanations so you can apply your critical thinking skills to it. Then you can accept it or dimiss it or take a piece of it for your own.
Critical thinking skills is the key phrase there. Those skills are greatly diminishing in this day and age.
We can't handle fiction so we create reality shows but we don't really want reality or we'd watch documentaries, which no one ever does, so we edit reality into the pieces that entertain us. Which is what we do with all information now. We'll edit books down to just the pieces that we can chew quickly and swallow like fast food rather than actually enjoy or digest and get nourishment from.
We can't handle true journalism, we only want sensationalized headlines that can be delivered quickly so we can move on to the next celebrity drama. Why? Because reality hurts and scares us. The thing is without pain you don't know you're in danger. Fire burns because putting your hand in it will damage you, even kill you, so you automatically pull your hand away when you get burned. Avoiding things that are unpleasant doesn't make them go away.
The corporations that are trying (and succeeding in many aspects) to run this country want you to ignore the pain and unpleasantness of what goes on around you. I was discussing this with a friend yesterday and he brought up a George Carlin quote, which I sadly can't find, but the ghist of which was, the big banks want us to have just enough smarts to run the machine but dumb enough to not notice the big red white and blue cock sliding into our asses. I would change banks to corporations (banks included) but yeah that's about right.
Here's the thing though, we like it. We feed into it. We like to hide our heads in the sand. It's safer and quieter there. It's not a good way to live though. How do you even try to stop something bad from happening if you don't see it coming? I want to know where the real journalist are? Why aren't there more websites out there run by refugees from network news? People who want to actually report on facts not take a side.
I have this overwhelming sense of society careening toward a cliff that the media doesn't want us to see coming. I'm not a conspiracy theorist per se but I think a lot of corporations are run by people who think they know better than the average person and have enough money to push their own agendas. Not really caring about the consquences to the country or it's people. In the end the god they worship is money, they can couch it in conservative rhetoric and religiosity but those who buy the senate and congress are just in it for the money. That is why the wealth disparity in this country is so large.
Does anyone realize that the goal of the terrorists on 9/11 and even today is to break the United States apart into separate city/state/nations so we don't wield the inordinate amount of power that we currently do in the world? Do you think that maybe they didn't fail as much as we'd like to think they did? We have rarely been more divided as a nation than we are today. By class, by race, by education, by beliefs and the majority don't want to acknowledge or even see it because if they did they might feel like they had to do something about it and they probably don't even know where to begin.
The thing is you just start by starting. Knowledge is power. Read books, history in particular, history tends to repeat itself you just have to adjust your thinking to recognize the parallels. Read news from all over the world. See their take on things that are happening in our country. It can be more objective at times. Don't accept the chicken mcnugget version of news the media moguls want to feed you. Strive for more depth, more information. When something inspires you or incites you sign petitions, vote, complain, write blogs, write letters to your congress person, to the editor of the local paper. Start small, start big. Just start.