Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Binding Distraction

More from boredom than good sense, we fell into watching the presidential debate on Tuesday evening. As everyone and their dogs have already written, this time the President was more animated. Possibly this change was due to the different, town-hall style, format with no lectern to cling to, and a posse of questioners in the smallish (well-vetted) audience seated in front of the two debaters. Or even more possibly due to Prez having watched a video of his earlier debate performance, reading reports and opinions of it, and feeling he could have done better.

I'm posting just to let off a wee bit of steam on one aspect.

"Binders full of women".....In a remark which could certainly have been phrased better, Gov. Romney inadvertently gave the Twitterverse, Facebook and general chattering classes yet a second piece of nonsense to throw around social networks and internet generally. First piece of nonsense: his "Big Bird" remark in the earlier debate. I do not wish to diminish the importance of what was at the core of these remarks - that is equal opportunities for women and funding of a public TV channel
by criticising Twitterers and the like - but really.......they have diminished those issues themselves.

Is this the best that social media can achieve in the USA? If so, then I suspect we were better off without it, at least at election time. There are many very important issues to be considered, some of which are never given a single mention, due to an already highly controlled media and debate platform, making these debates little better than theatre to distract the masses. Rather than pushing such issues to the fore users of social media choose to throw around these silly bits and pieces.

The masses are so very easy to distract, are they not? I wonder sometimes if these types of distractions are cynically orchestrated rather than naturally occurring.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in "Brave New World Revisited", the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In "1984", Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. "In Brave New World", they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”

― Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

According to Facebook, the reference to "binders full of women" resulted in a 213,900 percent surge in mentions at one point during the evening. One Facebook page focused around the topic already has 230,000 "likes." "Binders full of women" was the No. 3 search term associated with the debate on Google; and according to Yahoo, search interest in the term was up 691 percent following the debate. It was also the remark that celebrities were tweeting about most the morning after the debate.
(Oh well - if they were Tweeting about it, it must be important.)
(Statistical info from The Hill).

Disclaimer: I am neither a Romney supporter nor an Obama supporter. See sidebar.


Wisewebwoman said...

It just may have cost him the election, T.


mike said...

We had dumbed-out-Texas Bushisms for eight years, are we now on the way to dumbed-out-corporate Romneyisms? I read this morning that Romney is now ahead in the polls by six percent. I stated before in one of your posts, Twilight, I'll take the president that I know based on the past four years. The Romney that I don't know has potential to greatly diminish any advances made since Bush. I consider Facebook, Twitter, et al, to be unintelligent social masturbation.

Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ Perhaps I'm being unintentionally thick here, but I didn't see what the hoo-ha was all about.

I'm the last one to side with Romney - on anything - but I didn't see what he said as being bad - poorly expressed, but not bad.

I believe it's a distraction pounced on and led by the Obama-bot crew. School-yard bully tactics.

I'm as strongly in favour of equal rights, equal pay and all other equalities for women as the feminists are - I worked in a legal environment which supported these rights for 24 years in the UK. Even so - I didn't see anything particularly bad about Romney's remark.

Twilight said...

mike ~~ I'd vote for Obama if I lived in a swing state, Mike.
Romney is safe in Oklahoma, Obama hasn't a chance in hell here, so I shall vote my conscience and not put my name to drone bombing innocents. I'll vote Dem down ticket though, and leave the Prez line empty if there's no other option but the 2 Evils (almost certain to be the case). I understand your point of view, though.

LOL!! LOL!! "Unintelligent social masturbation" - wonderful expression and so very apt!

Chomp said...

I do agree: “What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.”

Orwell remained inside the military states of the age before Second World War, people who have maintained that idea are incapable of understanding that control is not merely a military state!

Huxley saw much farther and even better than Orwell

Twilight said...

Chomp ~~ Yes. They were both amazingly insightful for their times, but in different ways.
In Wikipedia's page on Huxley we're told:

On 21 October 1949, Huxley wrote to George Orwell, author of Nineteen Eighty-Four, congratulating him on "how fine and how profoundly important the book is". In his letter to Orwell, he predicted:

"Within the next generation I believe that the world's leaders will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging them and kicking them into obedience."

Chomp said...

Loving their servitude... Right!! So it is in our tmes...

Twilight said...

Chomp ~ Yes, here we are in our Brave New World.

R J Adams said...

I do feel that if there's one thing social media has done for the human race it's to display it's inherent shallowness, false egotism, and self-centered materialism. I note of late that Amazon now provides the means for me to announce via social media that I've just purchased a tube of hemorrhoid medicine. Twitter on that, if you will!
I find the very concept of 'social media' (read: 'mob gossip') abhorrent. Mike was way too kind. I'd prefer, 'retarded bloody wankers'.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~ Sounds a bit harsh, re the shallowness, but I have to agree, RJ. The concept of social networking initially didn't seem too bad, it has uses, but now has been taken too far in most instances - another of our human Earth-bound innate traits - taking things too far and showing off our worst faults.

LOL! Yes you do excel in, erm... wonderfully "ripe" Brit turns of phrase. LOL!