I remember when news sources were word of mouth, radio, TV, magazines and daily newspapers and you had to tune in on time or buy a paper to get the latest. These days, if you let it happen, our grey matter can be fried by growing numbers of apps wirelessly chirping 24/7 from most corners of earth.
In years gone by, we felt the news was the news, and the fourth estate was indeed credible when in Canada Lloyd Robertson or Nolton Nash led with national news headlines. Today, however, we frequently question who to believe amidst a growing erosion of trust. The more we question, the more we compile our own ‘facts’ to draw conclusions, often prejudiced by our own beliefs. Just as statistics can be manipulated to support differing conclusions, the internet abounds with opposing ‘facts’ depending on search terms used.
Some people’s information is judged misinformation and other’s conclusions can be twisted to provide rivals with ammunition. Has the desire to serve the greater good of honesty without bias been left to the fringe minority? There seem to be few, if any, accepted forums for debate to develop consensus. I’m right, you’re wrong and the division with no middle ground can be exploited by those in power to do what is ‘right’, or most beneficial to their cause.
Over the years, we’ve been treated to the spectacle of foreign democracy gone wrong when well-dressed elected officials participate in donnybrooks while in session, with furniture and bodies flying like Saturday afternoon professional wrestling cage matches. How barbaric! How uncivilized! Why can’t they learn to conduct themselves like us, the poster children for western democracy and niceness?
Will we ever need someone like Ed Whalen, long time commentator of Stampede Wrestling, to commentate physical debates at the House of Commons? In parallel with professional wrestling, virtually all Canadian political outcomes are pre-decided with no short-term checks and balances, and ruling leader gets to determine which and to whom rules apply. Politics is no longer a gentleperson’s pursuit, particularly if someone has aspirations for leadership. It’s up against the cage for verbal dirty boxing, smear campaigns to shed the dirtiest light on your opposition, and once elected, more broken promises then fulfilled, and clear division of how constituencies are treated based on party lines. And now, the fractious few have awoken to erase history, dictate with absolutes and cast light on the ‘only’ paths forward.
Ever wish for a simpler time? A land line, post box and two fuzzy channels on the TV? A time when we elected government officials, and we trusted them to do the right thing? It’s certainly a choice we can make. Alternatively, maybe we could remove the burden of decision-making from elected officials, and everyone can tune into CSPAN daily to cast smart TV ballots to decide how constituencies will vote. How about we pilot this grassroots democratic system when the next pandemic rolls out and we’re locked down needing some distraction. After all, we’ve clearly demonstrated that bricks and mortar and defined work days aren’t as important as once thought, and no one has to go hungry when the bill will be paid by future generations.
Peace out. Harold