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The Tentacle


April 14, 2014

An Ode to the Willfully Disenfranchised

Steven R. Berryman

It is amazing to see the willfully disenfranchised among us continue to complain about their circumstances, and then surrender or flee. The freedom of choice abounding in what remains of America includes “the Freedom of Ignorance”...the freedom to allow heads to remain in sand, ostrich-like.

 

“Don’t tell me what I don’t want to hear!”

 

People both “talk past each other,” and also avoid entire subjects willfully in the most politically-correct manner. In this way, our personal “secure-zone” can be protected; our core beliefs – as discussed in my last column – remain unscathed.

 

It all started when Mom suggested that in polite company never discuss religion or politics; and then it got worse.

 

Politics encroached on every area of our lives from positions on abortion (how personal does it get?), to how a curriculum is chosen and how to judge it to be “fair.” So, now we either turn to a resigned mush, or are proclaimed radical for espousing any position at all! Do your friends think you are crazy? They call this peer pressure. In the old days, this assured “conformity.”

 

So, today, our “multiple-option society” reliably brings to us fractionated news; the polarizing news networks, and specialty cable TV programs designed to take your soul, because they predictably gave you and affirmed that which you wished to believe.

 

When was the last time a news program surprised you with a fresh and unexpected angle, or presented carefully both sides and asked you to decide? No, not PBS, but they are careful and subtle. To get them, one must read between the lines and see the unseen. What was left out? What related item that – obviously supported a countervailing opinion – was ignored?

 

We self-select and self-identify with brands associated with The Food Channel, or Animal Planet. With MSNBC or Fox News. With the Gun channel or the Gardening Channel.

 

Now I’m okay with fractionation of content based upon hobby, as above, but when the belief altering news networks thrive by hiding alternative viewpoints, engender lies by omission, and then tell only its part of the story, it makes me shut down, and tune out.

 

The pandering to a particular viewpoint requires an alternate game plan for remaining informed: Know thy source, and seek a variety of alternatives on a regular basis.

 

Know and learn about various news sources: Do you know that The Wall Street Journal has distinctly different slants when alternating between the main-news sections, and those containing opinion? Do you regularly visit news-aggregator pages like The Drudge Report which offer a virtual catalogue of links to sources instantly?

 

The trap has become that political “talking points” are sewn into the scripts of the CNNs and ABCs of the world, by targeted commercial advertising. Because behind the scenes, your Monsanto, and your Pfizer and your Merck will select platforms for propaganda based upon agreed upon editorial behaviors.

 

Advertising is “pulled off” of those stations found out of compliance. Pretty simple plan.

 

And now that we have polarized networks with target positions, human nature takes over and we gravitate to that which we wish to believe, based upon our core beliefs and cultural biases….unless there is recognition of our current state of affairs.

 

Be aware of those going out of their way to claim “fair and balanced,” and float between the widest possible batch of radio shows, Internet blogs, and “papers.” Alternate between Frederick Comcast channels 32, 65, and 68, and learn the signals of half-stories and obfuscations.

 

Doubt everything and continue to doubt until you have proven multiple sources reinforce a truth you believe. Be open to change, despite infringing on your friends opinions. Dare to say what you are thinking!

 

Those raising their voice to put you down or limit discussion are not your friends. Those seeking rational debate care about what you think and may be open-minded.

 

And never the twain shall meet.

 

srbmgr@gmail.com

 



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