Posted by: twotrees | April 5, 2010

Think for yourself…

Last week’s VCR was an experiment to see how people absorb information.  I’ve long thought that over the course of my lifetime, there has been an acceleration of human distraction, or if you like, a deterioration of focus.  I can see it in myself, and with last week’s April Fool’s issue, I certainly can see it in others.

I believe this has come about in part due to two things:  Information overload and technology.  The latter aiding the former.  Technology has come to the point whereby you now know, as I did within two minutes of the event yesterday, what happened in Calexico, Northern Baja.  After feeling the earthquake, I logged on to http://www.data.scec.org/recenteqs.html and saw the data without anyone’s help.  What is given is instantaneous headline news (apologies to CNN).  What is given up is in-depth reporting, consideration and dialogue.  Was a time when the average American adult learned a dozen new things about their world each day.  Now, that’s morphed into ten times as many.  We know very little about many, many things but very little of any single thing.

Coming back to my point, here’s how information spreads in today’s society.  Someone learns something (sometimes incorrectly).  I know of one local man who saw the headline on Thursday’s paper and called at least three “news reporters’ to be the first to confirm it.  Those people then ‘virally’ transmitted the information out to others.  VOILA – bogus news is now broadcast through previously trusted gossip channels.

We’ve had a lot of response, much of it angry, some relieved, some amused – but now the hoax is over and we’ve posted a new banner on the website and disclaimer at the end of each story www.vcreporter.com 

What I want to think is that those who took the bait will use the good sense they were born with to analyse, consider and question what they read, hear or see in the future from all news ‘sources’.  The garbage we published last week is no less incorrect, stupid or intentionally misleading than a good percentage of what I see on cable many nights.  The only difference is that in a small community like Ventura County, it’s more personal.

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