I’ve been thinking of this new media we have today and all the interaction it provides. Or maybe not interaction so much as everyone getting to comment on whatever matter is at issue. And, it seems, even expecting to comment. Used to be, if you published an article in a print publication, the only way someone could respond was by writing a letter to the editor. Only those who were most compelled to respond would go to the trouble of doing so.
But these days it’s easy (except for those of us who are daunted by those wavy letters we must identify and type in before publishing a comment to prove we’re not cyberbots). But even that is easier than typing out your letter, editing it, retyping, getting the snail mail address, etc. Then you’d have to wait around probably for two issues before you even had a chance of seeing your letter in print. And most likely you never would see it, since the page constraints of print media would limit the number of letters published in each issue. And in those letters you probably wouldn’t find a lot of repetition among them.
Now between Facebook and blogs and Twitter and Amazon everyone gets to put their two cents in. In fact, for a while now our local news anchors actually take precious time to report what viewers are saying on the station’s Facebook page:
“Sally Sniverliver said, ‘I really think the new development is a good idea and should be encouraged.’
“And Harvey Schmortz said, ‘The new development will only take up city funds that would be better spent for other uses. Like fixing the giant potholes in our streets.'”
This is news??? (Okay, I paraphrased, but what was said was consistent with my paraphrase — it’s still not news). Why should I care what Ms. Sniverliver and Mr. Schmortz have to say? If I want random comments I can ask my neighbor. Or the grocery clerk…Or listen to the local talk show where people call in. Why are the reporters reading us their Facebook page???
Maybe they think it makes us feel more connected to the station. More important. Maybe they think it will make us watch more consistently in hopes our Facebook page entry will be read. Are these really the only way news stations can think of to boost viewership?
But I digress. My point is that there are an awful lot of words being spewed out there in cyberspace and I think it has significance, maybe in what it says about our society. I’ve been to blogs where a post has 857 plus comments. Does anyone actually read all 857 comments? Do the people who wrote the original post even read them? The most I’ve read of such a huge number of comments is about 50.
Bottom line: it seems like communication, it seems like interaction and connection, but is it really? Or is it just letters strung together with some spaces in between, a bunch of 1’s and 0’s and not much more…
“Do not take seriously all words which are [written],” says Ecclesiastes 7:21
And, “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,” says Pro 10:19. “But he who restrains his (typing fingers) is wise.”
Not to say I don’t appreciate the comments I get from my readers… I do. But mostly you all are very thoughtful, classy commenters and I thank you for that!