Written by Noemi Pollack on March 26, 2009.
It’s really a given that the public is increasingly seeking its news not from mainstream television networks or the ever-disappearing daily newspapers, but rather from surfing online, giving us the leeway to essentially behave as our own editor, seeking out news that best coincides with our own point of view, rather than hear, watch and read what is offered up by mainstream media. Nicholas Negroponte of M.I.T. cleverly coined it ‘The Daily Me’ — a fictitious online publication of our own making.
According to an editorial by Nicholas Kristof printed in last week’s edition of the European Herald Tribune, he makes a scary point – “there’s pretty good evidence that we generally don’t truly want good information — but rather information that confirms our prejudices.” And then Kristof adds, “The effect of The Daily Me would be to insulate us further in our own hermetically sealed political chambers.”
As depressing as it sounds, I believe that there is nothing new in that. In fact a version of ‘The Daily Me’ exists both on the Internet and in mainstream media, for the public has always hunted for news outlets that agree with their own positions. For example, with mainstream media, we either read liberal publications or conservative ones, but rarely both. We either select to watch Keith Olberman or Bill O’Reilly, but never both. In surfing the Internet for news, we are not really changing what we have always done – hear, watch and read like-minded columnist and broadcasters.
I agree with Kristof’s suggestion, that of the ‘Daily Mental Workout’, akin to a trip to the gym as our only salvation from digging ourselves deeper into one-mindedness. According to Kristof, “if you don’t work up a sweat, it doesn’t count” meaning it will take that extra mental effort to put a halt to our preference for editing out the opponent’s point of view.
As difficult as this may be, it really is our only deliverance from the divisiveness that has engulfed us. It will take individual discipline to really adopt a ‘Daily Mental Workout’ and sweat through our own narrow-mindedness and pre-conceptions to effect a change.