If you are reading this blog, I will go ahead and assume that it's probably pretty safe to say you read several other blogs on your Google reader or whatever feeder, you have a Facebook page, Flickr account, and maybe even a Twitter account. Depending on the commas in your bank account and what kind of pictures you take you probably have a 5D, or at least some kind of digital point and shoot. iPhone for sure. Do you have an iPad yet? Now I ask, as I get to the heart of this blabbering tirade, how do you access your information? And with the seemingly infinite and over saturated amount of information that is just a mouse click away, what do you filter through and actually read on a daily basis? There is a lot to sift through these days. At times it seems, despite the Twitter updates and breaking news text messages, that no matter how connected we all are, we are never really up to date with anything except a headline. The world is broadcast in nearly real time. Boom....earthquake in Haiti, 20 minutes later there are pictures on some refreshed website of people hurt and the massive destruction.
At what point has the Internet destroyed us? At what point has new online media and technological advances made the news abstract? Are images today of so called "news" ultimately abstract as the story, the before and after (aka content), do not have time to catch up before there is another barrage of brand new images or headlines flashing on some screen? Shit, nowadays, everyone is a photographer, you got a 5D and a Flickr account, you good to go kid. Literally. With 14 year old paparazzi and however many thousands of images being uploaded a day to Flickr, I can't help but to think that words and in-depth stories have been replaced by pictures and 140 character constant updates and that our lazy "my brain stops working at 2:30 so I have a 5 Hour Energy" society could care less. Our celebrity obsessed para-social culture could seemingly care less about long term stories, such as how lives are transformed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina 6 months down the road, "yeah man, I get it, I saw those pictures of the flood waters on the evening news, but, hey, by the way, did you see last night's American Idol?"
But let's not completely dismiss the words. In fact, the words are a monstropolous beast of their own. The age of the Internet has allowed all of us a platform to preach our gospel. And depending on how loud you can yell and how fucking deep you can reach into the depths of your own retardation and pull the ugliest rabbit out of the hat, you just might get yourself national media attention for a week. "Yeah, Billy Bob let's burn us some of them Korans, we'll show 'em Muuzleems whose boss." And so in an age when voices, that 20 years ago would have been dismissed as the schizophrenic in the park yelling to himself, are brought to you live via the holy Internet and served up as breaking news with sprinkles on top, we can't seem to get enough. And us Americans can barely decide between a number 2 and a number 5 combo meal at McDonalds for dinner, we don't need all these loud voices telling us about Tea Parties, why it's ok to make exceptions for religious freedom, and why we should repeal health care reform.
We find ourselves, as Americans, as a society, in an interesting place right now. As technology has begun its take over, we are amidst a transition. Facebook has not yet taken over America, which it will in 5 years...or sooner. Instead of logging on to Safari or Firefox, everything you could ever want and need will be through Facebook: shopping, news, social "interaction," games, movies, etc etc etc. 13 years olds today spend more time in front of a screen than anything else except sleeping and so our future inevitably will become a Facebook world. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about it all. As I dive profoundly deeper into my research about the newspaper industry, the Internet, social media, I have come away with a unsettling feeling about our society as a whole. Now let me interject here before I go any further. Don't get my wrong, I am sitting here typing this on a new computer, I have 3, in addition to one of these phones that buzzes incessantly and requires the same attention that a small child or pet demand. Yes, the Internet is a glorious machine, perhaps the fire and wheel of the 21st Century, but when something is gained there is usually something sacrificed.
The newspaper industry enters that equation as we march into a digital era. I come from 5 generations of newspaper men. My great, great, great grandfather started the York Daily in 1870, and this tradition has continued down the line. The newspaper industry is my family business. And journalism will never die and will adapt to new technology amidst the erosion of print as it has done with the advent of radio, television and now the internet. But the transition has been difficult as papers have been struggling to recover from decade long consolidations into national corporate chains as new owners have stripped newsrooms to skeletons of their former selves in an attempt to boost profits and in the process reducing many great papers to mere satisfactory papers. The pressure and stress to produce a daily quality product with depleted staff and resources is nothing new for many papers across the country. But the bleeding can only last so long as the fight to hang on creeps toward an ominous prevail or die deadline. As we lose reporters, editors, newsbeats and sections of papers to buyouts, layoffs and bankruptcies, we lose coverage, information, and a connection to our cities and our society, and, in the end, we lose ourselves. Blogs like this that serve a specific audience written by fools like me somehow just dont sit well right now. I have a conflict of interest as full time professionals compete against unedited, unreliable amateur online outlets and citizen journalists for readership. My energy and my voice and this thing that I do, dont belong in this platform right now. As our connection to the buzz of our cell phones and refreshed web pages provides the latest developments on the marital affairs of famous golfers and young actresses' court appearances, our disconnect as a society grows deeper. And so I am disconnecting from this connection and pulling the plug on this blog.
Thank you for reading my lunatic ramblings over the years. Come find me at the bar.