Or, more accurately, my newsfeed the morning after the debate. I didn’t watch the actual thing. I’ve seen policians talk before, and I’ve noted the lack of actual substance and meaning. Besides, at this hour of the campaign the only people left to woo haven’t figured out how to make their minds up. And that’s just a matter of who’s name is heard the most. Personally, it took me all of 10 minutes to assess Romney as one of those hand-shaking fundraiser types- say, the current President of Georgetown College (who was recently ousted for his lousy 20 year performance) and the head of the warehouse book distributor I used to work for (who ran it out of business and was then moved to a harmless but salary-equal role in the corporation).
Anyhow, my newsfeed looked like this:
“No clear winner between Romney and Obama”
“A stronger showing at Hofstra, but the ghost of Denver still haunts Obama”
“Obama bounces back”
..and so forth. Depending on your “news source”, Obama won, or Romney won, or neither won.
Now, this isn’t much different than how politics and media have danced for as long as both have existed. And perhaps the idea that we’re no longer having our opinions influenced, but instead plainly offered to us isn’t much different either. But the idea that we are inventing our own truths is more disturbing now in light of the internet and our information access. Our sphere of influence has the potential to reach so far, to inform and reject and tweak people’s notions of reality. Even the reality we can physically experience can be called into question.
Hell, our communications are breaking down even as they grow: when O’Reilly stated that tides cannot be explained (or, later, how the moon came to exist), I had to ask myself how anyone could argue, in any fashion, with someone who uses essentially the same verbal tactics I used in second grade.
“Well, Bill, let me explain..”
“Nuh uh, that’s not how that works. We don’t know how that works, so I don’t believe anything you say.”
No explanation by way of proof, logic, or even alternative ideas can be shown to people who refuse to see. And so the debate went, while we sit and speculate, or echo the speculation that appeals to us, can anyone claim that the spectacle of a debate, even stripped naked, was anything substantial? You’d be hard pressed. Yet still it affects us; or rather, the pervasive tentacles of uncontextualized sound bites padded and framed in the trappings of every talking head, journalist, blogger, and social network comment on the internet.