Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Internet, Alternate Realities and Where We're Going As a People

I awoke this morning to see this Rasmussen Reports poll in my inbox.
"...[A] new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 23% of adults think they personally spend too much time using the Internet, computers and mobile communications devices.
Seventy-one percent (71%) disagree and believe the amount of time they spend this way is appropriate.
Seventy-five percent (75%), however, believe young children spend too much time on computers and other electronic equipment.
That might not mean much to me on any other given day, but last night--after a long City Council meeting that could have been done in under a half-hour, had Council not convened an almost hour-long executive session for the second meeting in a row--I cracked open Matt Taibbi's The Great Derangement about the effects of an America that is increasingly disengaging from society to interact in isolationist online and real-life communities that adhere to the singular world view of one's choice.
What good is the World Wide Web if you use it solely to bolster your own view point?
The growing way in which many people use these information resources to cloak themselves in a smug certainty that they are right and everyone else is wrong, misguided or delusional is alarming. And it is turning us all into one another's enemies.
Take this earlier Rasmussen poll:

I take some umbrage from this as I was accused of of being guilty of this during the last election cycle. But without naming names, I think it couldn't be more ridiculous in this one isolated incident involving me because the candidate they were saying I was biased against was the one that I supported in my non-newspaper reporting life.
But the kicker on this isn't the number of people who think the press is biased or more liberal or whatever, it's the numbers about a minute and thirty seconds in that I want to emphasize.
Only 21 percent of people are going to get their political news from the Internet this election year. That's just about the same 23 percent who say they spend too much time on the Internet.
The vast majority (considering there are four options here) will be tuning into the nightly news for their political pickins, and print and radio will scour the bottom for a combined 16 percent.
So lets look at it this way.
In a year when the entire state legislature will be up for reelection--we'll see how many actual contests there are this year--three-fifths of us will be relying on the television to give them information on candidates. Just under a quarter will be plotting their own course for campaign coverage and the rest will hope that they can get what they need from local sources.
For Milledgeville that's a little disturbing. There are no local television stations, so almost 60 percent of us will not hear anything about our local races for the Georgia General Assembly. Just under a quarter of us will get to read what the candidates want us to know about them. And 9 percent of us will rely on the efforts of one person who must balance the elections with the needs of city and county governments, plus whatever church barbecues, new wing restaurants and motorcycle club poker runs that pop up during that time.
It is scary to think that the ever expanding media landscape is doing exactly the opposite of what is possible, and that we the public are the reason it's happening.
Just consider this some kind of open thread rant.

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