I have been reading a blog by a mama I met at MOPS. Every now and again, she posts a video. So today, on my daily trip over there, I watched a piece about Senator Obama, and what a wretched person he is.
I set my personal feelings about Senator Obama aside, because I was anticipating something that was completely anti-Obama, but I found it incredibly easy to form an opinion on the video based solely on the video. Now before I get up on my soapbox, I want to just say that I really value other points of view when they make me think about my perspective. I enjoy being challenged to re-evaluate on which side of The Line my soapbox is placed. And I think it is awesome that as Americans, we are not required to pay homage to things that don't deserve it, and that we are practically baited to stand up and proclaim. (Thanks, Blogger!)
The media plays such a crazy and ridiculous role in every part of our lives. And unless you live in a hole, under a rock, in a cave, at the North Pole (which, incidentally is a dangerous place now that there's only one year's worth of ice covering it), the presence of the media is inescapable. There's always a television, or the radio (you know, the little talking/singing box with buttons and/or knobs) clamoring in the background, the draw of the internet, the bold headlines on the paper. The media is like air...you breathe it even when you're not thinking about it.
This video, which I will not post because it is so very Over the Top, was carefully edited by a man who claims to have invented the internet. But he's not Al Gore, so I was a little confused. Here's a basic schematic of the points it tried to make:
moot point, incorrectly researched
moot point, out of context
moot/already discussed too much point
overpublicized gaffe by wife/moot point
incorrectly researched point
seemingly valid point, but taken out of its original context, rendering it invalid
incorrectly researched point
lots of anti-Muslim sentiment
more judgemental sentiment
I commented, because it is exciting and fun to get comments (hint, hint), and also because the first person who commented said 'that was very informative to us politically ignorant people!'. That, my dearies, was just as alarming to me as the mostly hateful rhetoric in that video. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. (Luke 12:48) We have been given an amazing right by the First Amendment to our Constitution. But there's a lot of people out there who exercise their Rights with malice. Part of the responsibility of the First Amendment is to consider the source of speech, the intention of the free speech, and the accuracy of the free speech. One sound bite is not enough foundation on which we should build a solid opinion. We have a nation of politically ignorant citizens who are making snap judgements. Black. Socialist. Too old. Woman. Conservative. Liberal. Watch a video, and automatically believe everything it says? That is insane.
As crazy as the whole watch-a-video-form-an-opinion thing is, it is so true. A couple of weeks ago, I was in Ithaca for a Habitat for Humanity of NY State conference, and one of the afternoon speakers was teaching us about utilizing our volunteers based upon the generation to which the volunteers belong. He discussed belief systems of each generation, what motivates members of each of the three predominant generations, and how each generation utilizes technology. I was struck by the technology-media dependence of people born between 1980 and 1999, or GenY. They have a really technology-centric culture. (I say 'they' because based on the characteristics, I am more of a GenX-er. And I was born in the 1970's. That makes me sound old. Well, old for me...)
I said all of that to say this: GenY must be even more diligent than the baby boomers and the GenX-ers regarding what they read on the internet and see on TV. There is so much ridiculous garbage out there. (Do you like how I didn't say 'crap'? I'm working on not saying 'crap' so much because I've passed it on to my children, and I desire to be a proper mama.)
I would suggest that if your only source of information regarding Senator Obama is the conservative media's 'Hussein Spin', it is likely that picture is inaccurate. If your only source of information regarding Senator McCain is the liberal 'rag', it is likely that picture is inaccurate. It makes sense that we, as responsible citizens, would make an effort to read up on both sides of the story. Read what the Presidential Candidates have written. Listen to their speeches. I've read some writings of each of them, and for me, that has been better information than any other media source. Note: I wouldn't recommend Senator Clinton's writings if you are more clever than a third grader. Unless you want to take a nap, then go right ahead.
And this whole process of becoming more informed and more educated should not be limited to the running of our country. I don't think I needed to actually say that, but I'm just covering the bases, here.
What America becomes is up to us. And hopefully we will not be sheep who believe everything we hear from the media whether it be liberal or conservative. In John 8:32, the author says 'The truth will set you free.' If we want to be set free from politics and media as they have become, we need to be diligent about getting as much of the story as we can. Information is power, and is it right to let the media industry decide what information we can and can't have? I think it is not.