I met former Vice President, Al Gore recently. He’s been a hero of mine, and so many, I’m sure. I found Mr. Gore to be engaging, funny, incredibly passionate about his mission to build a better and cleaner world…for all of us. This man, should have been President. And that, is an understatement.
“In the world of television, the massive flows of information are largely in only one direction, which makes it virtually impossible for individuals to take part in what passes for a national conversation. Individuals receive, but they cannot send. They hear, but they do not speak. The “well-informed citizenry” is in danger of becoming the “well-amused audience.” Al Gore, from “Assault On Reason”
This is a fascinating book. Mr. Gore talks about the actual brain activity when watching television, as opposed to reading the printed word. The part of the brain responsible for reasoning ability is NOT stimulated any where near the way the brain’s reasoning ability is stimulated through written word. When reading, the brain has to take actual symbols, read them, put them together into words and sentences. This actually helps the brain comprehend and reason. Television watching doesn’t do this. Fascinating.
Back in the day, the public square was the place there was the meeting of the minds. People came, used their voices, worked out issues. Then came the printed word, and everything changed. Information, and opinions reached the masses. People now had the opportunity to get their views out, and rebut issues that mattered.
Then came, television. Big problem. Television views are ever-increasingly one-sided. And there is no way to rebut any view seen and heard there. It costs too much for the average person to even think about being heard. “News” programs have become more and more like entertainment, and fear-mongering spots. The average American watches 4 1/2 hours of television a day. It’s too much! Television is the reason politicians don’t do enough actual work in Washington…their time is becoming more and more consumed with raising money….for television ads for their next campaign. It’s disturbing, and it’s got to stop. We have to get the money out of politics, and get back to honest dialogue and honest work. The more we all sit in front of the television, the worse this will get.
I agree with Mr. Gore, can you imagine the stimulation, the drive, and knowledge that could come if more Americans spent this time reading?? Engaging? Can you imagine what we could get done? Instead people watch, listen, and do nothing.
The internet is helpful in that there is a back and forth of communication of ideas and responses, but doesn’t quite have the same visceral effect that television has…the ability to show motion in real time. Hopefully, in the future, this will change as well, and probably will. But for now…let’s do what’s possible.
I suggest…let’s all read a little more…let’s understand, let’s have the public discourse…let’s learn, and let’s learn to think for ourselves, and lets learn to communicate. Find your voice. Know your power. Let’s embrace the possibilities. After all, it’s WE THE PEOPLE. YES WE CAN make a difference. And we should.