I’ve always lived with people who hate to throw stuff out. Can’t say how many times I’ve heard, “Can’t dump that, maybe I’ll need it someday.” I’m a thrower so don’t flinch pitching a 3 month old magazine. But had a brainstorm - it’s the sorting that’s hard for people. Most everyone admits they can throw some stuff, it’s just hard to decide what’s trash and what’s a treasure.
So what do pack rats and news junkies have in common? The sorting. When we were growing up folks got their news from a newspaper and by watching Walter Cronkite. In truth the newspaper reported yesterday news. And Cronkite summarized it professionally with some analysis and context. Today we get news seconds after it happens. Isn’t that progress? Yes and no. Instant news leaves no time to make sure the story is accurate and detailed enough to put it in context.
The 24/7 news cycle gives us access to current happenings across the globe, but it also give us brain rattling noise. And what’s even worse, in my opinion, is that much of what we hear is just one person’s opinion.
News sources like FOX cable news is not really news, it’s mostly shouted opinions. Many radio talk show hosts specialize in bashing and trashing whoever or whatever they think will up their ratings. We’re inundated with everyone’s take on every conceivable thing from abortion to xenophobia. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But they’re not entitled to their own facts. And that’s what’s missing -accurate facts analyzed without ranting or slanting.
It’s up to us to sort the whole mess out. Just like trying to de-clutter the junk drawer, basement or garage. There’s a lot of clutter. A lot of ranting. A lot of slanting a story to support the ranter’s opinion.
In addition to the airwaves we also have twittering, YouTube and all the rest. These social media can spread a story around the world in seconds – true, partially true or not true at all. No way am I trivializing the powerful impact social media made in the North African/Middle East overthrow of tyrants. But there’s a down side to everything and the meaningless or malicious noise is the downside.
At our time of life we have more time than we did when we had to juggle the job, the kids, the household. Now we have the time to tune into all that’s around us. But I wonder if we wouldn’t be happier growing tomatoes in the back yard.