Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Don't Watch the Debates, Get on the Net

As I pound away on my keyboard, the incessant chatter of the idiot box is ringing in the background. Kathy deftly navigates from channel to channel via the remote control. “The Surreal Life,” a rerun of “The Apprentice,” something on ‘E’ about “Murder and the Media Machine,” health, wealth and prosperity over on TBN, baseball on Fox, George Lopez, etc. Ugh! That rust you feel on your feet is the bottom of the cultural barrel.

Of course the big event of the night is the titanic clash between Dick “The Bruiser” Cheney and John “Pretty Boy” Edwards. Already, the pre-debate hype is barreling out of the ignorance box.

Personally, I’m going to skip the debate. Let’s face it, this ain’t exactly Lincoln-Douglas. Since I won’t be voting for either Tweedledee or Tweedledum, I don’t see much point. My time is valuable. You are free to disagree.

If Cheney and Edwards were going at it in a steel cage match, I might be inclined to stay around. Wouldn’t that be more entertaining, and for that matter, more informative?

Some time ago, I read Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” Postman makes a compelling case that we are lingering on a Huxleyan precipice. "Television," says Postman, "serves us most usefully when presenting junk-entertainment; it serves most ill when it co-opts serious modes of discourse--news, politics, science, education, commerce, religion--and turns them into entertainment packages. We would all be better off if television got worse, not better. 'The A-Team' and 'Cheers' are not a threat to public health. '60 Minutes,' 'Eye-Witness News' and 'Sesame Street' are."

I concur with Postman, and, I might add, televised political debates don't raise the bar, either. A onetime news junkie, I had overdosed on the “The McLaughlin Group,” “The Capital Gang,” “Hardball,” and all of the other talking-heads shows. Now the Internet is my primary source of information. Being an active reader is better than being a passive listener. Moreover, the variety of news sources online is far broader than the narrow range of “acceptable” opinion shoveled to the masses via television and talk radio.

In that spirit, I offer the services of Dow’s Digest, my website. You can visit my news links for a wide range opinion and information. I will update the page soon to include weblogs, too. Enjoy.

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