We´re all so enlightened now, aren´t we? We´re so informed and up-to-date. Nothing gets by us, these days, except maybe if what we may claim as fact or truth is not actually the case. The very definition of truth is being debated today, the ultimate irony. It now all falls under the guise of information.
Many of us are old enough to remember when a news cast was merely a source of information on current events and a way to know if you needed an umbrella and/or a coat for the following day´s escapades. Then came the advent of the “all news” networks and the beginning of the medium’s transformation from being informative, to a source of entertainment, by expanding on the limited available news, in order to fill all that air time.
Today, headlines are what´s in vogue; that and videos of babies and pets doing cute things, along with others performing an assortment of silly stunts. These, amongst others, are what we thumb through, every time we light up our smartphone. It wasn’t that long ago that “people watching” and conversation were the common ways of passing time, now we tend to just tilt our head down to our media device, even while walking in the streets. What could be easier, for those competing for our attention.
It all seems so complex now. Polarization and other forms of conflict are what news sources seem to bet on these days. They’re well aware that we all thrive on watching other people´s problems from a distance and since we’re all plugged in now, we tend to get involved in much greater numbers. Gone are the days where the most effective way to be heard was to write a letter, (remember letters? Remember writing?), or make a phone call. Today, we can immediately fire off and opinion, or a concern to whoever it may be and in total anonymity. This constant surveillance pushes governments to battle in the media, social or otherwise. Today’s enemies know each other well, after all, they’re the same enemies of old. The west has never trusted the east and vice versa, but with the advent of social media, any issue can be explosive, even if it isn’t a fresh one. Nothing new in USA vs Russia. Hollywood has long thrived from that rivalry. The Ukraine tug-of-war is no surprise. Putin doesn’t want NATO at his border, just like, in the sixties, Kennedy refused to accept the Soviet Union placing missiles in Cuba, 90km from the American coast line. China and the US have never been buddies. Sure, the Chinese version of capitalist communism kept both sides smiling for a good, long time because both could make huge profits from the ample, cheap labour, but then Covid happened, Trump blamed the Chinese… and you know the rest. The Olympics? There have been boycotts before, but with China they´ve come up with this “diplomatic” boycott, a slap with the glove, in order to declare that you disapprove, but your athletes can still compete. Great! The games are for the hard-working competitors and their admirers.
Currently there are massive, polarizing demonstrations just about everywhere, on every side of every issue. People are loud, rude, and disruptive, probably because they feel it’s the only way to get a point across, in our desensitized society. We have to get used to it and we have to now learn to listen to each other, find the common ground, find ways to work out the differences by coming to grips with the fact that we’re not as enlightened or informed as we think. Just because we can always find people on the internet that think just as we do, doesn’t make what we think fact. With the billions of users out there, odds are you will always find support for any opinion you may have.
All this may be easier said than done, but the alternative is what we’re living now.