Thursday, October 15, 2009

What I Learned From the Balloon Boy Episode

When you got in trouble as a kid wasn't the first thing your mom said, "So what have you learned from this?" Hopefully Falcon learned... something. I certainly learned a lot.
  1. We don't have news on news channels anymore. Although long suspected, this was the tipping point of confirmation. What we have are clucky knitting circles that sit in studios with cameras on them, babbling reflexively to the latest chaos to cross their line of sight, while being slightly less informed, intelligent, and/or savvy than the majority of people we run into on a daily basis. No, I wasn't watching The View. Yes, some of them had (or were capable of growing) beards. That didn't make them any less clucky. Sometimes more so. Honestly, my barista has more gravitas and better information.
  2. Be careful what you hear from your news source. Because they aren't careful what they read on the internet. They kept throwing out rumor and speculation by citing "some websites suggest." Turning to my husband I said, "I need to blog that the kids is actually a 2,000 year old vampire and although he fell from the balloon he's fine, he just needed the blood of twenty cows to heal his wounds. Very messy." You know, just to see if the news channels would bite. The only reason I didn't was because at that point we weren't sure the kid was ok and it would have been callous to disregard the family's feelings in an attempt to speculate. Obviously I don't have it in me to be a TV news anchor.
  3. Being a kid is harder now. Let's be honest, we all did really stupid things when we were kids. But the chance for us to be fodder and spectacle for a drama-hungry 24-hour news network was dramatically lower in the 80s or even the 90s. Before the 80s those networks didn't even exist and you REALLY had to do something to get on the sedate, stately nightly news - either local or national. I'm now a little scared to have kids because they will be growing up in the roaring 2010s where.. there will be roving cameras zipping around trying to catch something interesting happening? I don't know how it can get worse from here, I just assume that it will.
Maybe I'm the last one who should be reviewing the news networks since I actually don't watch them often anymore (or maybe that's the point). My primary news source? Kind of... ambient. Information is pretty much omnipresent in our lives and when I hear/see/sense something that interests me I follow up on it, usually with Google. (Usually on my Blackberry, so my learning is 24/7 and location-independent.) After that I would list Daily Show and Colbert Report (affectionately dubbed "the boys" in our house) and I read the Late Night Political Jokes list pretty consistently. Last, but not least, is checking in on my blogging circle periodically to see what's up.

All that makes me question: perhaps it isn't just the newspapers that are becoming irrelevant.

Oh, Balloon Boy, what have you done?

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