Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Maybe Brooks was right.

Have we reached an age where we lack fact?

When a blog like huffington post can publish as prominently as the NY Times, when anyone can photoshop any image, when anyone can edit together any clips to make nearly anyone say nearly anything, are we living in a fact-less world? This question of course has already been posed by folks smarter than I.

But I wonder if you can't take the logic of that question and apply it to Brooks' thesis. He posits essentially there are demographic blocks that hold immovable beliefs because of their social, ethnic, and educational backgrounds. In a society that's far less homogeneous than our parents and certainly our grandparents' demographic groups and by extension voting bloc's are creating their own reality.

If I am a staunch liberal, I can get my news from the NY Times, watch Keith Olberman, and read books by Al Gore. Sources like the evening news may portray stories I don't like or agree with, but I can chalk it up to knowing that a particular source is owned by Rupert Murdoch, or that they are being run by the corporate media.

If I'm a staunch conservative, I can read the Wall Street Journal, watch Sean Hannity, and read books by Bill O'Reilly. Source like the evening news may portray stories I don't like or agree with, but I can chalk it up to corporate media being slaves to the liberal bias.

But in the age of the internet it's far worse than that. I can ensconce myself in ideological blogs and podcasts, the echo-chamber effect. And when empirical evidence begins to pop up that my ideology or political leader might not be right, I can simply recreate reality through unfounded stories and minority reports. We see this currently with the public reaction to the Bush Administration, no one can defend the results this administration as wrought, so the Conservative blogosphere has simply tapped into the idea that W was not conservative enough. And the liberals in congress forced his hand.

This modern media landscape is having a profound effect in the Democratic Primary. Barack Obama is simply elitist. A man raised by a single mother, who only paid off his law school degree a few years ago is out of touch. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton who lived in the Governor's mansion for 12 years and the White House for 8, and has since made $109 million is somehow a woman of the people. Why? Because that's the narrative particular demographic groups have set up for themselves. And in this new media landscape, opinion matters as much as fact, perception as much as reality, and no one has to acknowledge something they don't believe.

The Internet for all it's power to share information, might actually be encouraging people to pull further into their demographic an ideological enclaves than explore others.

3 comments:

Michael said...

Interstingly, they same debate was made last night on Costas Now on HBO in regards to sports journalism and the blogosphere. The Pulitzer-winning author of Friday Night Lights took the bloggers to town, claiming fact-based reporting is dying and that blogs are dumbing down America.

Xircuits said...

Some where in that blog lies a discussion on Net Neutrality.

Marc Valentine said...

Masterpiece!