Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Dis-Information Age.

Sitemeter is a very interesting thing to have. Someone from Con Ed of Southern California has visited my site not once but six times since the recent post on "smart meters." I presume they're looking for comments. One of the visits actually out-clicked on the "post a comment" feature but then he or she apparently thought better of it, because no comment was submitted.

I have to wonder how much longer the internet as we know it will be allowed to exist. Already the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" is being bantered around as a way to circumvent people's right to freedom of speech, ISPs are slowing down or stopping user's connections to anyone except their "premium partners," which is Orwell-speak for only those sites run and censored by big business and their government lackeys, as one dear friend of mine put it. They are tired of everyone having access to information that's outside the official box, he says.

I don't doubt this one bit. But is the outside the box info any better than the useless junk inside it? I have to wonder.

During the election a lot of emails hit my inbox from well-meaning friends on all sides of the political spectrum. But being squarely in the age of Skepticism myself, all those messages about how Bush's buddies are building giant concentration camps for the religious and Obama is really a muslim born in Africa pretty much fell on deaf ears - how could it not? Mainstream media will never report on these types of things, even if they are true, and the various newsletters from small special interest groups simply makes allegations with little in the way of "evidence." I put that word in quotes because here in the post-science era, photos can be doctored, recordings can be doctored, we all know "scientific" studies only find what the researchers are paid to find (directly or otherwise), and who knows who those "eye-witnesses" really are to this and that event. No one can prove anything to anyone anymore unless they are ideologically pre-disposed to be convinced. Even my "natural news" digests are starting to sound like shrill tin-hat wearing conspiracy freak epistles, blaming the FDA and big Pharma for every illness and disease in America.

We had a race for senate that was an honest to goodness mud-slinger. One candidate came out with a smear ad on TV and I swear the very next day the other guy had his rebuttal and a counter-smear all ready - and this went on for weeks. Ads with testimonials, anti-testimonials, and even an I-didn't-mean-to-say-that-in-his-ad-so-now-I'm-making-this-new-ad-for-the-other-guy testimonials! In the end, I decided both candidates were slimeballs, which left me no one to vote for in that race.

Information fatigue, I believe, not voter apathy. I am not apathetic - I just no longer trust the information I'm getting.

But that doesn't mean I won't continue or that we shouldn't continue to follow up on the issues that concern us. After all, even if the truth is in the middle you can't find the middle if you don't hear both sides. The problem with people today is that they have no interest in hearing any side. If it involves more than a 30-second soundbite, it's too complicated for today's badly educated adults - that's the real problem. Finding all the information is work, and today people aren't willing to put in the effort.

I do have to believe that big business and government are absolutely not interested in an educated and informed populace, no matter how many platitudes to the contrary they spout. They want ignorant, pliant sheep who will believe anything they are told, or, better yet, sheep who have no interest whatsoever. And they have largely succeeded in accomplishing that goal. The 18-20-somethings I've talked to apparently thought TV commericals were enough to tell them everything they needed to know about the candidates and their positions. When I mentioned several issues and pointed out that no ads ever mentioned the candidates positions on those issues, they just looked baffled.

And the Chereidi just vote for whomever their Rav tells them to vote for - they have no clue what the issues are, much less how the candidates positions will affect them. Who knows what criteria the Ravs used - I doubt it was who would crack down the most on investment fraud or zoning law violations or child abuse. More than likely it was whomever would promise to leave them alone to rule their little fiefdoms undisturbed by anything so worldly as civil or human rights to freedom of religious practice. As a recent post on the Kvetcher's Blog points out, asking questions gets you in trouble with the Ravs - they prefer their followers to be ignorant of alternatives and pliant.

Likewise, I can believe big business and "the elites" would like to silence or minimize those who refuse to play along. After all, back when the only information the public had was strictly controlled things were a lot easier for them. I can see they might prefer a return to those days - but I doubt the genie could be put back in the bottle. Attempting to silence or limit the internet will just convince people that they have something to hide, at least as long as some of us are still paying attention.

Or, it could be there are just enough cells in those giant detention camps for those of us who are paying attention. If so, most of America will never know, because they won't put it in a 30-second soundbite.

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