Keeping It Up to Par
The cacophony of public conversations about political debates, candidatesâ€™ positions, and news coverage of the 2016 presidential contest is in full swing. This is our first presidential election cycle during which a great majority of the voting public is paying attention via a multiplicity channels. These include the entire digital universe, newspapers, magazines, social media, broadcast and cable/satellite television and radio and local community conversations, among others. Two thoughts on dealing with it all:
- More than ever, Marshall McCluanâ€™s statement that "The Medium is the Message" permeates. â€œEach medium, independent of the content it mediates, has its own intrinsic effects which are its unique message. The message of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs.â€ This means we must separate the individuals from their medium to really know who they are. We have to know Trump other than a TV star and to go beyond Clinton and her email to have more on the candidates. The next president will exhaust a limited, seven minute debate statement capability within the first hour of taking the oath.
- Good decisions demand reading, research and thoughtful consideration. Before we make up our minds, we must do the vetting that solid editors used to accomplish for us. A majority of people get their news from Twitter and Facebook, according a Pew Research study. Those news posts may or may not come from a legitimate news source. Too many reporters and editors for legacy news institutions have retired, gone on to jobs in the tech sector, been laid off or begun working in business communications (including for political campaigns). Major dailies like the New York Times and the Washington Post can help us, yes. But remember, we teach ourselves how to check out of the grocery store, to learn new software and to program our iPhone 6 or Surface. We are rarely provided documentation upfront or guided in systems or devices. We have to do it ourselves.
So we approach each presentation of information from candidates and their campaigns with healthy skepticism. We will survive the tilt-a-whirl, but avoiding dizziness and nausea requires keeping eyes on our horizon. The challenge is to recognize the difference between entertainment and education, between posturing and platforms, between celebrity and statesmanship.
I like to believe we still want our elected officials to be people of good character. Letâ€™s honor our better angels and do our due diligence. Remember the medium. Read. Read some more. Consider carefully. Be cautious about the allure of bombast and the seductive quality of one-liners or 140-character quips.
We are the responsible parties here. As Steve Jobs said, â€œâ€¦if it's not up to par, it's our fault, plain and simply.â€