ANGER! RAGE! SHOUTING AT PERCEIVED THREATS TO “OUR WAY OF LIFE”! CONDESCENDING WAGGING OF FINGERS AT SOCIALIST/FASCIST/LIBERAL SCUM!! BUY GOLD NOW BEFORE OBAMA OUTLAWS IT LIKE OUR GUNS!
Boobs! Advice to people who think morning-drive shows are the place to get real relationship help! Boobies! NFL and NASCAR commentary and opinions! Boobs and suggestions of sexual acts hosts would like to perform on celebrities! Humiliating people on the street! More boobs! Constant laughing at unfunny jokes based around farts and penises. Lots of Hooters ads.
BBC-based news and nose-slightly-upturned-at-people-who-have-jobs-with-names-on-their-shirts-style commentary. Aggregated worldviews on a variety of issues with constant interjections of demands for more money from local hosts so as to keep public radio on the air. Interviews with culture shapers and movers, especially as told at local wine-tasting fundraisers for opera and philanthropy. Incessant classical music and obscure recordings from deep space and remote African villages.
Classic rock with ads from the local head shop and deep cuts every hour. Very mellow.
And that about sums up my day in radio. I recently posted on Facebook that one particular radio host was getting especially ridiculous with his doomsday predictions and condescending eyebrow arching across the airwaves. Someone suggested that I always have the option to turn it off and ignore it. And she’s right.
But that is a bit of an ostrich approach – if I don’t like it, I don’t listen to it, thus it does not intrude on my life and effectively does not exist. And, in a free market world, this is the logical and rational approach to avoiding that which I find distasteful. The other side of that argument is that, by making myself ignorant of what is going on out there I’m not really being an engaged participant in the interactions going on all around us.
“How can you stand to listen to (that blowhard Rush)/(the commies on NPR)/(the juvenile gigglers on the Robert & Thomas) show?”
That’s a common question; your choices in media are often your statement of opinion in the social realm. Should you be a Fox News addict, you tend to dismiss all other forms of media as “insidious liberal propaganda”. If you listen to NPR, you probably enjoy lectures on quantum physics and feel guilty about not taking enough public transportation. People are often right to make assumptions about your worldview based on your media consumption habits – after all, if you’re a football fanatic, people are right to question your sanity if you’re caught watching a hockey game on a Sunday afternoon in November.
I take a different approach. In an attempt to be mildly informed, I try and consume media from several different angles and make opinions based on facts as presented by multiple sides. To the consternation of most fundamentalist zealots, I am also able to allow that opinion to be flexible enough to change, should new facts come to light; this makes me “wishy-washy” according to most hard-liners. Mostly, though, I try and remember that media’s primary purpose is to engage and retain as many viewers/listeners as possible, thus driving up revenues and bottom lines. They’re well aware that we are short-attention span consumers who demand to be entertained at all times. So, if shouting hysterically about the oncoming apocalypse as evidenced by the behavior of all Democrats makes good business sense (and it sure seems to, as you don’t hear about too many middle-income national talk radio show hosts), then by all means, demonstrate outrage on behalf of the Founding Fathers all day long. As well, I can understand that the jocks dispensing advice to the people they lovingly refer to as “dumbasses” or “stupid bitch” are most likely targeting young men from 17-28 who wear their hats backwards and have an appreciation for the fine art of Wrestling Smackdowns and Busch beer. That’s all well and good; these people have carved out their niches or jumped on bandwagons and are contributing, in their own ways, to our conversation.
Seeking to halt the spewing of opinions by those with whom we disagree is the start to a very slippery slope, one which I think runs contrary to a free society. I love to shout back at the radio when I’m told how I need a bucket of food for only $599.00 to prevent the annihilation of our species once ObamaCare comes into play. I really and truly enjoy watching televangelists “cure” and “heal” people because I’m convinced it’s some of the best acting on television. It confuses me when my spiritual friends and co-workers get mad at me for tuning it to those channels at the lunch hour – I thought they’d be rooting on the apparently lucrative practice of the Prosperity Gospel as outlined in Malachi and Deuteronomy. Like politics, that’s an area where people only seem to want to congregate with those of the same mindset and any sort of attempt at rational debate is met with a shaking of the head, some clucking, and a muttering of “you just don’t get it”.
I do get it.
I just love a good argument, and I think it hampers your ability to engage in one if you limit your intake of information to only those who either confirm your suspicions or pander to your fears.
To think critically is an exercise that requires more than a soundbite, a sermon or a pledge drive. But it’s an exercise that brings to fruition an informed citizen, something we as a nation could really use.
And who doesn’t love classic rock? Commies, that’s who.