Monday, September 07, 2009

An interesting day on the airwaves today, although frustrating as always. Sometimes the distance of the radio is a good thing - you can take a minute to receive the various pundit's words as they're doing their best to seem intelligent, witty and right and process them to see why they are generally confused, dull and wrong. It must be with the lack of distraction of visual input that you can focus on the actual words said. But it allows the listener to pick out the wheat from the chaff in a way you probably couldn't if you were, say, watching an interview on TV or talking to someone in person. Our habit as humans, after all, is that we speak extemporaneously, discovering our direction of thought as we speak through the previous one and confusing our mouth with the topic we're already moving onto in our mind.

The disadvantage is that you feel silly trying to strangle, or indeed, punch a radio in the face. I don't feel silly throwing things at the television. There must be a psychological impediment to physically abusing something with no human face for the sins of a voice that does have something that passes for a human face.

Your only route of executing a right of reply is by some electronic medium. And the very banality of the average texts/calls/emails that get read out over the airwaves make you both a) ashamed to see that as a measure of your peers and b) curious as to how quickly replying publicly to these things drives you insane. I often wonder the same thing about people who write letters to newspapers and who reply to blogs too. (The complainants - there's something very normal to write a quick message of sympathy for a tragedy or to express delight at something you found entertaining, to my mind).

I wonder if the experience of "vigilance" towards some issue to which you object or just the feeling of revenge, of having "showed them" is what pushes the content of this kind of response a little askew of what we think are social mores? Or are the kind of people who would bother to respond already a little askew?

But there is so much content out there in all the various media we consume that is just wrong. And the frustration involved in having to innocently read through something only to discover that it's misleading, or insane, or downright duplicitous is sometimes overwhelming. (For "read" you can also substitute listen or whatever. Everything is a text these days, or whatever your cup of ism is...) It's hard to self-judge and decide if you're being a reasonable, just, appreciative and skeptically minded observer of human behaviour who likes to help his fellow man see where the middle ground is so that they can then decide where they want to stand on important things, or if you're being a wacko.

I've been trying to "collect" groups of interesting skeptics and thinkers on twitter, which for my money is a great service (free, so even if it was a bit more shite it would still be worth my money). I don't know if I'm a clear thinker. I know I certainly wasn't, earlier in my life. I know that a lot of crap that I put in there myself has only recently been lifted from my mind. I hope that some of the people I listen to will help. Although I must remember to be careful to diagnose what they say. That, or try to punch/strangle the computer screen, which, while it wouldn't feel as silly as punching my radio, would be far more expensive.
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