Saturday, June 15, 2013

Hypnotized by signals

News by definition is what is new, not what is older.  Leon Lewis inserted the item "L. Lewis spent the month of Feb. reading in the library."  It is a report of what he did, a journaling, but not likely to spread around the world by means of Facebook and Twitter.

You can see the progression: we start a village newspaper to inform everyone about the dire financial straits of our church.  Then, we use it to let everyone know that Sally had a baby boy and both are in good health.  Both warnings (taxes about to come due, town reservoir is getting low, a scam has been noted in the area) and happy things (kids graduated, new doctor in town) are put in the paper.  Paper itself is expensive and writing the content and printing and distributing takes time, talent, and money.  We wouldn't use our paper to explain all the items that are continuing on as they were. We try to use the paper to announce changes, not continuations.

Ok, that might have been the situation in 1810 or 1910, but after radio and the development of the media for entertainment, after the mammoth growth of multiple channels and sources and connections, we are now in the midst of competing groups, all of whom want to be the FIRST to tell us that Indonesia was hit by an earthquake or a gunman shot 3 people in California.  No, wait!  A different gunman shot even more people in Nevada!  No, more importantly, a fire is raging out of control.  Oh, yeah, a building collapsed and many people were hurt or killed.  

The competition and the natural desire to know what is going on around us, extended to across the surface of our planet, creates storylines that are outstanding in their novelty and in the terror they inspire.  You think that is bad, frightening, ominous?  Just listen to this!

So, somebody notices this slant toward the negative and tries to balance all this drear and alarm with smiles.  Out comes a paper with pictures of very lovely flowers, beautiful mountain meadows and adorable children playing with adorable puppies.  Smiles on every page!  

Again with the competition and the technical advances.  Our pictures have more detail!  No, OUR pictures are in HD!  No, our paper comes out on the iPad and the iPhone and the computers.  We have videos!  See the actual children moving and tumbling!

All this is quite different from the weekly village paper that had a few announcements.  Too much time spent absorbing the competing streams gives us a very distorted picture that we come to believe in.  Maybe I'll check with Google News every other day and just look out my window on the alternate days.

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