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home : opinions : opinions August 20, 2017

The Publisher's Pen
Jason Sturek

Everything that’s wrong with the internet in one pic

Forget President Trump’s politics for a moment. It’s important that wherever you sit regarding his policies that what I’m about to write isn’t tainted by emotional attachment (or disdain) to what he might be trying to accomplish.

The topic here is the internet in its most modern and general form. And, quite honestly, I’m growing weary of it.

I’ve pondered a bit as to whether or not I’m just entering a sort of “geezerhood” whereby I am just less adaptable to change.

But, no. That’s not it!

The promise of the internet to move information for the betterment of the human race isn’t being met by a long shot. The idea that the leader of the free world, regardless of political party, sums up policies and statements into grammatically unsound 140-character-limited bits, and some people find that as an acceptable form of communication is ridiculous to me.

Matters of national security, economic vision or complicated subjects like immigration aren’t meant to be packaged this way.

After watching the big game Sunday night and soaking in the history of it (again, without regard to who I wanted to win), I made the mistake of perusing Facebook. Among the first things I saw is the image included with this column.

Lady Gaga performed the halftime show, which, as always, was a glitzy and highly produced extravaganza. A television station (not from around here) quickly posted a poll with two possible answers . . .  “Loved It” or “Hated It.”

Personally, I was barely watching it. Turns out, I didn’t quite have a passionate view on the matter in either direction. What I did feel, however, was immediate disdain for this type of human interaction. Do we really have to boil everything down to the strongest two emotions now? Is there no room anymore for nuance?

Someone reading this will think I’m overreacting. It’s just one silly poll. If it was an isolated example of what the information superhighway often is, I would agree. It’s not. This is what we’ve become, and, in doing so, it’s of little wonder to me why people are so unlikely to really discuss issues in any degree of depth.

I’ll concede that the world has probably always been pushed and pulled by its extremes. Passionate people usually do talk the loudest and care the most. The decisions our nation has made on numerous levels have always been settled somewhere between love and hate, though. Let’s take The Pender Times as an example. I’m sure we’ve got a few people who love us, and there are probably some who’d say they hate us. And I’m sure they’ve got their reasons. Most people, though, find something on these pages they like and some things they wish were different.

The truth rests somewhere in the middle. A poll that asked people if you loved us or hated us wouldn’t tell me much about the job we’re doing. And in the case of Lady Gaga’s halftime performance, asking people to clamor into one of two camps with “X” people hating her and “Y” loving her is another pointless exercise that sums up hundreds of hours of planning, man hours and investment into categories that barely reflect how the majority of people actually felt.

When it comes to politics, you’d think the middle ground has disappeared based on national media coverage and the sounding boards of the internet like Facebook. I know that’s not true. It’s just drowned out by all of the shouting. Nor does it help when so much coverage is devoted to the latest tweet or social media post.

I will close by thanking our leaders here in Thurston County for avoiding Twitter thus far so we can just report news. I’m sure the day will come when all I do is regurgitate social media posts for people in an attempt to fact check them and hold them accountable for their words. But if I’m honest, if that never happens, this geezer will be a happier one.

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