Thursday, May 10, 2018

Information overload is working against us

The recent school bond proposal had a dismal turnout, wouldn't everyone agree? The projected cost of implementing it and the debt it would incur scared a lot of people. It appeared to me to have a lot of "wants" inside it, but the idea of boosting education and facilities (read amenities) seemed plausible enough to cause division also.

On my forum, the subject was dissected daily with a very negative view by some very bright people. The points brought out against it seemed very valid and the reluctance of the contributors was reinforced by not wanting to get us in major debt. I read with interest David Bloom and Bob Hoskin's support of the bond and both appeared to justify its passing, so why didn't more people vote? I can sum it up in one sentence.

No one knows who to believe anymore.

There are simply too many "expert" opinions available. Never mind that many of them are nothing more than talking heads, or athletes, or movie personalities. If Oprah or Steven Colbert are for or against something, many will follow suit and not bother to research anything. We all tend to watch or read the news sources we trust and you have the Huffington Post people over the Drudge Report folks and both groups only read the one they like.
The "news" channels are devoid of actual news and have become entertainment opinion venues with more commercials than actual live news content. Depending on these sources to set you straight on any hot issue is akin to trusting the weather report or thinking the roads are not going to clog up after you leave for work. Never mind that the traffic girl and the guy in the bow-tie said everything was peachy.

I've made the claim before that our ability to pull up any subject at any time on our Smartphone is not necessarily a good thing for our mental growth or stability. In fact, I've claimed the phones are making us stupid(er). And I'm a heavy user. The reason for this is using this device becomes a crutch and a bite-size info tool at that. Everything is served to us on a tiny screen and in short sentences. What could go wrong? Let me make a short example. Texting or talking while driving is stupid and we all know it, but we do it anyway because our usage is important and justified, even if yours is not.

Getting tiny bits of info on our phones makes us jack of all trades and master of none. We are like hummingbirds eating. For every byte that goes into our brain, an equal amount drops out the pooper because we no longer use anything more than short term memory. "What time is it? I don't know, let me check my phone." One minute later we can't remember the time.

No one memorizes anything anymore because we can simply use a search engine to grab a snippet and that is what we do. Now looking back at the bond that failed, I believe the reason many didn't vote is not because they want innocent baby Johnny or Jenny to have a substandard education. The reason was they didn't know what to believe or who to trust.

No one knows who to believe anymore.

In the past, voting on most political issues has been easy. You vote Republican or Democrat and let the chips fall where they may, but now even that is becoming cloudy. We, as American voters are now realizing the real collusion in the news is not Trump with Russia; its career politicians on both sides of the fence ganging up to stay in power. Conclusion by most voters? They are all corrupt and in bed with each other. We cannot trust them to represent us. One fellow even suggested this was true of the school board.

Ex-chief of police, Charles Schaffer once told me that everyone seeking something big or some change has personal profit as a motive, regardless of how they present themselves. I am not quoting him here, but it is a good representation of what he said. By the time a person gets high enough in politics in this country, they are most likely no longer serving those who voted for them. Our city council has openly been accused of this on my forum.

An equal number of people on both sides of any issue will swear they are giving the public "the facts", so what do we get? Confusion or blind faith. I'm a bibliophile and spend as much as 6 hours a day reading and I don't know who to trust or what to believe. The sad future is not that this will remedy itself, but get worse. I'm afraid we are setting ourselves up for a great leader to rescue us. I hope not even though it is a prophesy in the Bible.

No one knows who to believe anymore.


Anonymous said...

I tried not to convey whether I supported or did not support the two GCCISD bonds. I only wanted to get people to call and talk to their officials and get the true facts (by law, they have to tell the whole truth). Some of the so called facts were not fully true or were bent to support a certain message. I did not agree to that approach and wanted to try and get people to do their own understanding of what was involved. But if you read into my letter that I supported the bond, then I guess I failed in my message. Tired to stay neutral.

Thank you,
Robert C. Hoskins
Baytown City Council - Distr. 5

Anonymous said...

So enjoyed your Baytown Sun article this morning. I do not have a Smartphone and I am still overwhelmed
with information from other sources. Like you, I do not know what to believe is true and what is false. Thanks
for making us aware of what is going on around us and make us think for ourselves. Keep up the information.


Dan Fleming


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