I struggle with the idea of writing and posting online when there's already a ton of noise to sift through. So many things to read or not read, or block, or save for later, etc. Not to mention all of the ads that pop up and the clickbait lurking at the bottom corner of your screen. But I have had some recurring thoughts during this lockdown that I would like to share with you. This won't be long and hopefully won't give you heartburn.
The title of this post is a reference to John Lennon's song "Gimme Some Truth" from the Imagine album. Check out the lyrics here. There are direct references to Nixon, it being written and released circa 1971. If you know anything about Trump's "friend" Roger Stone, you know he's a huge Nixonite. His back tattoo of Nixon's face is not photo-shopped. If we play the degrees-of-separation game, we get: Richard Nixon -> Roger Stone -> Donald Trump. You don't have to go very far to understand the relevancy of these 1971 lyrics to our current times.
John Lennon was not without his controversies, but in the words of Grace from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, "He's a righteous dude." We have a major problem in America with people believing a lot of what they read or hear or see in the news or social media. Anyone with enough money, or even the ability of filming themselves for YouTube, has become an "influencer" on some level. Why have we given so much control over to such a limited number of people? If you were to work out the ratio, there are a lot more people allowing themselves to be influenced than doing the influencing.
Fox News can be considered a major influencer of thought and culture in America and somehow they've escaped being branded as "fake news" while almost every other news outfit has (wonder why...). I don't watch Fox News, but I also don't watch CNN or MSNBC anymore either. They're just as bad at peddling a certain adversarial style of journalism. And it's not really about news. It's about titillating viewers and gaining traction through controversy. I cringed when Rachel Maddow got into such a made-for-Prime-Time lather over the Trump tax returns, that were found in another reporter's mailbox in 2017. To use Trump's own words it was quite a "nothingburger" and reminded me of when Geraldo Rivera opened up Al Capone's vault in 1986, to find nothing but rubble. The wikipedia page of that particular airing says: Thirty million viewers watched, making it the “highest rated syndicated special” in history. Rivera had inadvertently launched a “no-news” form of news, where instead of reporting on news, entire programs were about possible and hypothetical news.
Question: Why does anyone even care what these people think? Is it important in my daily life to care what Tucker Carlson or Don Lemon has to say? They're on the t.v. every single night! I think you are doing a disservice to yourself, if you don't question each and every word they say. They are a reference, maybe nothing more. Because behind every talking head is a producer and director. And behind them is a management company. And behind them are a bunch of other people with money, who have a say in what is aired on the network. I hesitate to call it propaganda, because I don't want to sound paranoid. But there is as much to learn from what they don't report in the news, as there is in what they do report.
Which leads me to my next point: In this era of data gathering, it is much easier to see things as they are in terms of numbers and trends. A simple example of this is tracking how many people visit a website in a day. And then how many people click certain links within that website. You could follow how popular a certain topic is, how popular it is with women vs men, how long it remains a popular topic, or rises and falls, etc. The same applies to tracking a virus or disease. Numbers of infected, locations of hot spots, movement of the virus, and how fast it is moving, or rising/falling, etc. Now, if someone wanted to manipulate these numbers, they could do that. But let's presuppose that this data is not being altered. Gathering data and properly analyzing it removes a very, very important component: opinion. "Taylor Swift is popular" is not an opinion. Do you like her music? It doesn't matter. You can look at her concert ticket sales to know she's popular. "Does drinking bleach kill COVID, or does it just kill you altogether?" I don't know, what's the data??
History is a long timeline. And different truths exist at different times. Different truths exist depending on who is writing the record. Flavor Flav once said "History shouldn't be a mystery, our story's real history, not HIS-story." Meaning, don't let anyone dictate your truth to you. It is yours to define. And, as another notable member of Public Enemy said "Don't believe the hype."
Peace and Love,
April 30, 2020