Reality Bites by James A. Norton


Life is not always as it seems, especially through the eyes of the media…


Here’s something different – a guy writing his opinion column in a print and online newspaper criticizing the media. The last time I did something “different” in the paper, I got about 200 positive comments, emails and phone calls – and oddly enough – only a handful of negative comments, two hate emails, one Facebook hate page and not much else.


I don’t believe in being overly “PC” when it comes to my daily routine – I find that just a modicum of sensibility, consideration and humility gets me through the day, and I deal with a lot of people every day. I also don’t believe that we should stay away from conversations about real world problems, just because the majority of people either don’t understand the root of the problem or are ignorant to the issue. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to waste my time yammering about a topic that I can’t engage someone on an intellectual level either.


Like everything in life, you have to find balance. You need to find a common ground, which almost every major issue today has, and then build up from there. The problem today is that people are blinded by emotion. That skews everything, that is truly the rub.


I mentioned that “different” topic I wrote about in the paper a while back – it was about Donald Trump. I said I liked him as a candidate for President. I intended on writing several pieces after that, explaining why I didn’t like certain things that Trump was for, but, was excited that someone was finally going to stir the emotions of people otherwise disengaged and bring them into the larger conversation about issues. That doesn’t mean I am a racist, doesn’t mean I’m a misogynist, doesn’t mean I’m for taxing the poor and middle income brackets more. Stop it.


I had hoped to bring forward nuances of the underlying messages and conversations that should be happening. Not the misdirection that happens on a daily basis on the radio, TV, internet and in the print media. Yes, I am finally coming around the media component, thanks…


The problem with the media is they give you a great soundbite. No background. They give you one side of the story. Not both, or any others at all, in fact. They give you a tilted (at best) version of what is really going on. Well, 95% of the media do. This leads to wrong perceptions of what is going on in the world and why.


Name the topic, whatever it is – and you get a lot of emotions on all sides. In a way, that’s a good thing, because at least there’s a pulse out there, at least there’s interest out there, at least there’s involvement, good or bad, out there. For a long time, there wasn’t enough polarization to a topic to even engage the average person on the street. Now, whether good or bad, at least people are talking. Jumping from not giving a crap to hell on wheels violence though, kinda overkill.


But the media loves it. It sells papers (it really doesn’t though), promotes readership, improves click-throughs online and generates traffic and potential purchasers of products and services. That’s what it really does. It doesn’t matter what it is. That’s what the media wants – more media buys by candidates and political groups, big companies selling products and services, etc etc etc. Welcome to the world of the media – where it’s all a big shell game, forget what we said yesterday – look at what happened today! Dog and pony show all day, all night – 24/7 on those crazy interwebs.


Look, I have been writing for a long time, ran a print and online newspaper for a while, have been involved off and on in the newspaper business since I was a teenager and I have seen it all. It ain’t pretty. And my big beef with the media is I don’t want to be fed information – just give me the chance to read for myself, give me options, give me a different opinion built into the writings and maybe, just maybe, I would stop Googling the hell out of everything 100 times a day and having to go to 16 different links to get a sense of all sides of a story.


It’s basically the same problem that I had almost a year ago when I pointed out how the City of Somerville should have never hung the “#blacklivesmatter” banner off the City Hall with absolutely no explanation to those people driving by. It sends the wrong message to people who see it and have no way of gaining any kind of context on the issue itself – nevermind that the simple message of the banner itself has become an entire movement, which may have started out with the right purpose behind it, but is now subject (and suspect) in nefarious (at best) dealings with violent activities centered around police officers, specifically.


So yeah, it’s tough for me to just write that little something mentioning this, because quite frankly, the entire issue needs to be expanded on, written about at length, and explained appropriately to give context. I still stand by my assertion that the banner should have never been hung the way it was. The problem with the media is the same problem we have as people – just put something out there, but don’t give any kind of contextual basis for that opinion. Doesn’t mean it’s wrong, but it’s the vehicle in which it is sent out there. So either you get only a small portion of information from the media, or you’re left to your own to Google everything and hope you find information sources that will give you a variety of places to get the information that you need.


I still like Trump too, but like before, not for the reasons you think, or assume. But that’s ok, because I know a LOT of people who like him for one reason or another as well, and to be honest, I’m ok with that, because like him or not – at least he has jump started real conversations about real issues. Can’t hate that in a land where apathy and indifference typically rule the roost. #GMK

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