I just watched a video lecture by the clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson (I see he's been trending lately). He's part of the "Intellectual Dark Web" described here by the Times. He's on to this idea, proven by his wild success, that people are starving for long form discussion sessions (his lectures are constantly sold out) and yearning for civil discourse on polarizing issues among people of different opinions. He believes that the old school media must adapt or it will die. He credits much of his popularity to the unlimited bandwidth and low cost to entry that YouTube and podcasts afford independent thinkers. These people are not beholden to advertisers or forced to bark out sound bites and teasers. And watching these hour-plus long videos, I find myself learning and thinking, not moving on to find out what someone else is saying to make sure I'm getting a balanced viewpoint. Once I started looking into who he was, I found that a large majority of opinions about him out there are flat out wrong, with some shamefully editing his words to make him sound like a monster!
I am now turned off by shallow and one-sided political discussions that last only 5 minutes or those dreadful TV news debates with people shouting over each other. Nearly all online headlines are written as click bait and often facts are buried so far under the lede I'm sure few take time to read that far because the format of pop-ups and blinking ads breaking up the text is so distasteful to sit through.
I have always admired the Times, actually not as much for their news but more for their excellent profiles and opinion pieces, and typically all of their articles present sophisticated writing styles and deeper thought about a wide range of topics. I haven't subscribed to, and I rarely read, physical newspapers anymore because I have a habit of wanting the very latest updates when it comes to news, at my peril because the rush to post comes with accuracy risks as we all know. But lately 90 percent of what I read online seems twisted through some type of negative, dark, hateful, spiteful, downright mean filter. It's true that many of the loudest voices presented to us through the media are not civilized! And maybe this comes from the top down but honestly, it's all so petty and unproductive. I do believe that FAKE news is the enemy of the people! What reasonable person is going to argue with that statement?
This notion that Americans are somehow not civilized anymore is a good example of that. I know that is an opinion, which is fine, but the author throws up the idea and it's not complete. This country is FILLED with incredible people at every turn; a vast majority of our people are kind, law abiding, honest and trustworthy. Do you really have a lot of uncivilized people circulating throughout your life? There will always be the worst in any society to point to as cautionary tales. Fair enough. Still, focusing on only the few who are the worst over and over again is so dull and simplistic. I want a deeper, more meaningful exchange of ideas and apparently a lot of others do, too.