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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Why Bother?

Surfing around the various newsites and blogs, it becomes painfully apparent we are caught in an endless loop. The same stories with the same slant with the same rebuttals with the same debates with the same looney defenses. It's a real-life Groundhog Day  without the redeeming finale.

Yesterday Mr. Minority raised a number of questions about why Americans believe the way they do. I don't have all the answers (since I have the same questions) but I do have an inkling of how these skewed ideas take root.

We have a generation today that has been taught almost exclusively by liberal drones from the NEA. Yes, I once taught in the CA public schools, but as an independent contractor teaching theater arts, not as a union member. That small difference allowed me to stand apart and see what was happening. Example. A lesson plan about energy resources lauded the pure benefits of solar and wind power. Fossil fuels (coal and gas) were grudingly tolerated out of necessity, but the pollution and dependency factors were constantly emphasized. The one clean energy source--nuclear power--was the devil in disguise. After studying this unit, the children insisted "millions" had died because of nuclear power plant accidents, but when pressed, could not name one instance (excepting Chernobyl).

Needless to say the young, liberal NEA drone was not a happy camper when I pointed out the misinformation in her lesson plan.

In another instance, a fifth grade class was outraged at how inhumane the United States was. Why? Because we dropped the atom bomb on Japan. Those same students, however, had no clue about Pearl Harbor or anything else relating to the Pacific theater in WWII.

Once the children have been properly programmed, the mainstream media continues the miseducation. Like this:

Knight Ridder Gets it Wrong The news service giant puts words in the president's mouth and then looks the other way on connections between Iraq and al Qaeda .

Knight Ridder is the second largest newspaper chain in the United States. Its stories run in major metropolitan daily newspapers such as the Miami Herald , the Charlotte Observer  and the Philadelphia Inquirer . According to a company press release from May 5, 2004, Knight Ridder "publishes 31 daily newspapers in 28 U.S. markets, with a readership of 8.7 million daily and 12.6 million Sunday."

That's a lot of average citizens out there.

We bloggers like to think we're having an effect on public opinion and perception, but I wonder if we aren't spending most of our time preaching to the choir. Are people really reading our attempts to enlighten or is it just an exercise in ego-driven futility?

In other words--why bother? Especially when you see the breakdown of who's reading what. Pew Research checked it out and here's part of what they found.

"Pew Internet and American Life Project"
Summary of Findings 

-- Different people use the Internet in different ways. Within the online population, specific demographic groups have comparatively high incidence levels for certain online activities. For example:

-- High proportions of female Internet users have done activities such as seeking health or religious information on the Internet, while a large percentage of male users have sought news, financial information, sports news, and political news.

-- Among minority Internet users, a large portion of African-Americans has done research for school and sought religious and spiritual information.

-- English-speaking Hispanic users report high levels of instant messaging and downloading music compared to African-Americans and whites.

-- Those from high-income households and who have college degrees are more likely than those with more modest incomes and education to do a host of things online, including looking for government information, doing online banking, and participating in online auctions.

-- The young like instant messaging and downloading music. Older Internet users are more likely than younger users to get health information and seek material at government Web sites.

-- Experience and the quality of online connections matter. Those with more experience online and those who have high-speed connections at home generally do more online more often than those with lower levels of experience and those with dial-up connections. The growth of the cohort of veteran users, those with at least three years of online experience, has been striking. Nearly three-quarters of Internet users have at least three years of experience.

-- Email continues to be the "killer app [application]" of the Internet. More people use email than do any other activity online. Many report their email use increases their communication with key family and friends and enhances their connection to them.

-- Big news stories drive lasting changes in the news-seeking audience online.

Only males are listed as seeking news and political information on line.

Naturally I'm encouraged by that last statement about big news stories effecting "lasting changes in the news-seeking audience," and I certainly hope it means people are looking for both sides of a debate. Of course it could just as easily mean all those new surfers were only reading the web sites of the mainstream media--or those that linked to gruesome pictures of war and death.

After reading over those statistics my question stands: why bother?

Why bother?

I bother at MuD&PHuD for a number of reasons. I suppose they all boil down to two.

First off, I have an overabundance of opinions and am grateful for a place to air them out (otherwise I'd probably drive my friends nuttier than they already are =)).

Second (and I think much more importantly) to do otherwise (i.e., 'not bother') is to give up. We live in a free society where each of us can exercise an amazing amount of self-determination. The thing is that effecting 'good' self-determination requires information. Information will be 'out there' regardless (and inspite of) any efforts I might put forth. So I have a choice, keep on blogging or quiet.

In the latter case, the 'other side' gets free(er) rein over information dissemination and analysis of that information.

I, therefore, choose the former and hope that my humble efforts will (at most) have some positive effect on some person somewhere and (at least) help refine my own thought process.

I guess that's the long answer to why I "bother".
That's why I bother, also. I write to write, but my opinions are what they are, and come from many, many years of experience, education, and listening. I get lefties wanting to convert me, yet their arguments are things I heard twenty years ago, have weighed, and found to be invalid or downright stupid. I really don't want to rehash them again and again...a la Groundhog Day!
Amen to both of you! And Bunker, as one 20-year vet to another, I really empathize. I've been in the trenches in both the schools and the court of public opinion. Nasty name-calling in print is not a new invention of the left!

Maybe our biggest challenge is how to say the same thing in new and different ways to attract new listeners/readers.
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