‘Oh, it’s complicated,’ one hears. Well, I have this problem: I have no patience for what seems illogical. My even-tempered nature erupts at what seems a logical disconnect that would seem to be doing us great harm. ‘Can’t we see that?,’ I scream inside my head. What can we be thinking?
Something might be complicated because of vested interests or ignorance or lack of will, but if something doesn’t make sense, if some claim is clearly contradictory then I don’t understand why we don’t as a society, as intelligent people, just correct it. I don’t get the huge social struggles when something is a simple (to my mind) matter of sense. Not some opinion or uncertainty, but just a matter of obvious logic. Avoiding cognitive dissonance.
Behind the Lines is a documentary that follows legacy German newspaper investigative reporters who break a story that brings down the Austrian government. The filmmakers were embedded with the journalists of the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and the documentary shows the careful, even arduous, attention of the journalists for verifying all the facts, scrutinizing every word of text with a team of lawyers, proving beyond a doubt the identity of people recorded in a hidden camera video including detailed forensic examination and comparison of the subjects’ ears so that there was absolutely no doubt about every claim published in the paper. All that work just to be completely sure. This was done by a team of journalists, editors, lawyers, forensic experts and staff specializing in Austrian politics that also involved the investigative reporters of Der Speigal, another large legacy publication. All this effort was made to meet legal and journalistic standards and at considerable cost. At any moment, it was possible the paper would not publish the story for some small critical detail that couldn’t be confirmed. The legacy media governed by law and regulation and professional codes of conduct meet this standard. It’s all about trust, being able to trust what is published.
Most people get their news from FaceBook. Anyone can publish anything on FaceBook. It can be outrageous. We all know about the misinformation, a tame word for fabrications, outright lies, purposeful slander.
Despite FaceBook’s effort to claim itself a platform and not a publisher, logic suggests FaceBook is how the content is delivered. And not just content created by individuals but also organizations and businesses and media groups. No regulation. It doesn’t make sense to me that one media sector delivering news is held to incredibly high standards and another media delivering ‘news,’ called news by them, is not.
I know it’s big money. But it doesn’t make sense. I don’t get why we can’t transfer our concern for protecting individual rights and the integrity of our democracy established with legacy media, its regulations and standards, to new media. Why can’t we see through the manipulation of the new media marketing narratives? What’s wrong with us that we can’t connect the dots and assume the obvious, that news by which we make critical social choices needs to be trustworthy, subject to standards.
Here’s another disconnect. Facebook argues it won’t scrutinize what’s published on its site because that would be censorship and it holds to a high moral ground for freedom of speech without censorship. What? We let them say that? From day one FaceBook has done nothing but censor content. Two people living in the same house can be looking at radically different news feeds on each’s account. Of course it’s censored; specific news is selected and sent to each individual. FaceBook is rich; it makes every penny because it’s really good at censorship, at directing select content to each and every person. They base it on an average of 25,000 bits of profile recorded and analyzed for each FaceBook user individually, scoured from each person’s FaceBook posts, emails, searches and activity on not only FaceBook but any other site visited through FB Connect. Facebook uses all that data on each person to censor each person’s content and yet say they are against censorship. They are really good at censorship. And we know this. It doesn’t make sense that we allow this logical disconnect to continue. What they say doesn’t make sense but we just do nothing. Some people are fighting the disconnect but they are pushing against a behemoth that doesn’t move. The behemoth is the rest of us that don’t care it doesn’t make sense, just live with the logical disconnect, even when it does nothing but harm us.
I’m not good at this. I have no patience for logical disconnect when it has such harmful consequences.
In the departure lounge of the George Town, Exuma Islands airport in The Bahamas, there is a large mural made by local children. It’s a mass of plastic water bottles collected from the islands’ pristine beaches. Garbage the children have collected and by making a mural display are saying this plastic waste is wrong.
On every 40 minute flight from the Exuma airport, all the airline passengers are handed out a complimentary plastic bottle of water, a tiny bottle, giving one a few sips of water, handed out without asking if anyone is thirsty or needs a drink. Everyone takes it. We’re nice people; handed a free gift, we take it. As passengers are disembarking, the attendant holds open a garbage bag which fills up with all the passenger’s empty plastic bottles. Does every passenger need a sip or two of water during a 40 minute flight? No. Of course not. It doesn’t make sense. Handing out a tiny plastic bottle to be thrown away minutes later has no purpose except for the airline company’s marketing to make the passengers feel they have gotten value from a caring airline. (so they will book again with this airline). I noticed a lot of the bottles thrown away were only half empty. Nobody, or at least not enough people, make any logical connection between the plastic garbage washing up on the beaches seen in the mural they walked past to get to the airline and the absurdity of handing out the smallest of plastic bottles for no reason, to be thrown into a plastic garbage bag minutes later. Unthinking. People admire the mural and take a bottle, a really small bottle as you can see, and not think anything of it. What’s wrong with us? Why are we not thinking? Connecting the dots?
I’m screaming in my head, don’t you see? Does this not make absolutely no sense to you? Could it not be clearer, I think. Patently logical. Are we all crazy? Out of our minds. For not thinking through the obvious, we are destroying our planet and undermining our delicate civil society, and for doing that for something that makes no logical sense.
I find it curious listening to CBC radio’s Spark technology show after a convincing interview, for example, with David Williams (Stand Out of Our Light) or Jaron Lanier (Ten Reasons for Deleting Our Social Media Accounts Right Now) who point out the secrets of social media business practices that are undermining our social fabric, and then at the end of the show, the host will gleefully and glibly say ‘find us on Facebook.’
Under Thin Ice, a remarkable investigation on CBC and David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things takes the viewer to the floe edge in the arctic and in fact under the ice to witness the abundant life there, but as the documentary makes clear with 80% of that ice disappearing in just the last 30 years, and continuing at that rate to disappear, serious consequences are ahead of us, serious serious ones. A break in the show, a commercial break, told me about all the desirable features of owning a large SUV truck. What? Does what’s being said matter at all? Why bother saying it? The CBC needs money for production, but the fact there is a great disconnect between what the content is pointing out and what the advertising is encouraging us to do, while not making any sense, seems to matter little that it doesn’t make sense.
Is it just entertainment, means nothing more?
The Nature of Things, Under Thin Ice https://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episodes/under-thin-ice
I’ve referred previously to this image that I showed my class on the first day to illustrate the object of the course. I asked if they had any questions about the image message, in fact a sign posted by the Athletic Centre seen by students on the way into the college. Given some time to think about it, the students wouldn’t come up with anything questionable about the ad. I would tell them about our health and counselling services at the college, available to them. But then I’d say why would we have a counselling centre to help you deal with stress when all you need is a drink of Coke to make you happy? Then they got the logical disconnect of Coke’s claim. The drink wasn’t really going to make them happy. But then the students didn’t organize to protest this message as an insult for a college with part of its name as an institution of “Advanced Learning,” an institution of high academic standard. The disconnect, despite course instruction in various departments on the influential power of advertising and marketing, is no problem for the institution to promote this ridiculous message to students. What does it matter! they say. Even at the same time classrooms throughout the college, saying messages matter a lot.
Ben Shapiro on Fox says children can be seriously harmed by wearing a mask and when seeing a child wearing a mask, he says to the 45 million Americans in his audience, that they have the moral obligation to object to and even remove the mask from the child. Forty-five million people trust Ben Shapiro for their news.
Ah, well…. when talk media hosts are questioned about their journalistic integrity, they point out “we’re not journalists; we’re entertainers.” But you’re on a news media using the name ‘news.’ You have a news commentary program. Do we not get the laughable illogic and shouldn’t we expect better? It doesn’t seem to matter that it doesn’t make sense.
I think everything has become entertainment to us. Nothing is taken seriously, not concerned that what is said, believed by trusting audiences, actually has a significant impact on the quality of our lives and the future lives of the children, of the society we are passing on. We just stare at screens, video frames flying by, madly speed scrolling for hours to get through hundreds of notifications. Next day we don’t remember much of it at all. We keep scrolling the day following, more scrolling, unquestioning the illogic of it all. Not seeing the illogic of it all. Not thinking at all. No critical analysis. No judgement. Don’t act from any logic. Don’t connect any dots. And that’s good for business. I guess that’s why the disconnect continues. Logical disconnects are good for business. FaceBook business. Coke business. Airline business. Talk media business.