Thinking inside your comfort zone
They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. The thing is, sometimes that picture replaces important words with meaningless cute.
Take this photo caption, from newspapers on Monday: “Julian Assange’s cat, all dressed up with a collar and tie, looks out from a window of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Nov. 14.”
Cute picture. Cute cat.
It accompanies a much larger story, about a Swedish prosecutor arriving in London to talk to Assange, who is the founder of Wikileaks, about alleged sexual offences committed by Assange six years ago in Sweden. Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy for years, and has a clearly fractious relationship with the United States government, which he maintains is trying to get him to face U.S. charges. Wikileaks played a role in the U.S. election with the strategic release of material that damaged the Clinton campaign. Wikileaks may or may not have done that with the assistance of the Russian government. Russian officials have hinted they helped obtain material for Wikileaks, while Assange has denied Russian involvement. But the Russian have also said they met with Donald Trump during the elec- tion; he, like Assange, denies it. It’s a big, big story about foreign governments and outside “mechanics” potentially manipulating a sovereign country’s election. But, cute cat. The cat will get more “hits” than investigative reporting about whether or not targeted score-settling by an information age renegade damaged a candidate he personally didn’t like. And therein lies the problem. One thing I notice more and more — the people who agree with what I write say what I write is fine work, while those who disagree tend to write and post that I’m a bought-and-paid-for left wing media shill, an idiot or a member of the elite. Or all three. (A former compatriot of mine Tweeted quite accurately that people are usually accused of being “elites” when they have the temerity to use those troublesome fact things.)
The world doesn’t go around based on what we like or don’t like; we can all, unfortunately, be wrong at one time or another.
But more and more, we’re conditioned by the twin echo chambers of social media and an ever-more stratified media to pay attention only to the things we already agree with.
That, in its own way, is as dangerous and shallow as our addiction to cat pictures.
I wrote about it six years ago, after near-toxic exposure to U.S. rage radio: “The question that springs to mind immediately is, how do the two solitudes ever actually speak to each other? And I don’t mean the two solitudes of English and French Canada. I mean the two solitudes of American liberals, and the other edge of the country, the people nine degrees past Republican. The United States seems like a very strange place — ordinary places and ordinary people seem just like here when you meet and talk to them face to face. Everyday America seems like it did 10 or 20 years ago: a country concerned about individual rights and the Constitution’s role in maintaining those. But there’s little on the radio that isn’t completely seething with rage, and it can’t help but make you wonder if there isn’t plenty of other anger boiling away behind a nation’s closed doors.”
Truth is, as long as I’m getting input from both sides, I hope in a small way that there’s a discussion going on, that we haven’t reached that point anyone who doesn’t like what I write about simply dismisses it as “all lies” without bothering to single out even one lie.
Tell me where I’m wrong — I read everything I get.
If you can’t be bothered, well, there’s always a cat.
In a necktie.
The cat will get more “hits” than investigative reporting about whether or not targeted scoresettling by an information age renegade damaged a candidate he personally didn’t like.