The social media is now in full Goliath stride as it fills the blogosphere with a bazillion messages between us — friend and friend, lover and lover, now citizen and citizen — as we are proudly advised that democracy never had it so good.
Here’s the pitch! Jefferson and the guys back in 1776 could only dream of the marvel of such instant two-way communication in the great marketplace of ideas. Instead of distant citizens writing and then Pony Expressing their political wishes to their representatives in government, now 300 million US citizens can sit down at their keypads and create this giant civic conversation.
In theory, the Founding Fathers may have approved; in practice these aristocrats would have abhorred the concept. Too much democracy by too many of its uninformed masses!
Now to make matters worse, these instant tweets from the masses are being invited — and celebrated — by the world of entertainment. When I wasn’t looking, somebody decided the masses should be encouraged to tweet their every feeling — happy or sad, pro or con — to every program on the airwaves. American Idol, Housewives of New Jersey, Survivor Island, Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, Grammys.
Wait a darn minute!
Jefferson would have gagged on this. This is not democracy action, it’s flights of fancy in free-fall all in the economic name of generating more viewership. Put a camera in front of the masses and people love to wave “Look at me!” Now put a keypad in their hand and these same people will click their hearts out just to be a part of the action. Which insofar as it goes, is harmless enough. However when it goes so far as to be called democracy in action…
Reality check, please. Why would my clicks on my keypad make the slightest bit of difference to CBS or NBC? To my senator or my president? Informed and articulate opinions, yes; but no, surely not knee-jerk whims and wishes. If there is power in the social media — and there is — can we at least take and use this power seriously?
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