In the bad old days, which I remember because I’m about half a century old, if the media wanted you to believe something, you would believe it.
Well, most of the time. I was here for the apotheosis of Jimmy Carter’s term, and as hard as he was screaming that all our good days were gone and the American dream was over, people still refused to believe him. Despite the low pall of depression over most people, it didn’t quite take. I think part of the problem, of course, is that he wore those ridiculous sweaters and the press wasn’t QUITE absolutely dedicated. Cracks appeared, like, for instance, we knew about the thing with the bunny.
But most of the time, the media controlled the narrative, and controlled it completely. If they said the economy was booming, you believed it. Or most of the time you believed it, even if your local economy sucked.
Though Americans were always pretty mobile, before the internet, how many people in other areas did you really keep up with every day? Most of the time, for most people, you might keep in touch with family in another state or maybe two, but those were limited areas too, and even if you and your friends were all pretty broke, how did you know the rest of the country wasn’t booming? Particularly when everyone in the press kept saying it was the best times ever. Or the worst, or it was all your fault and you had malaise.
If you went against the media narrative, everyone looked at you a little funny, and as though you were going around with your pants on your head or something. Or worse. I remember Bradbury said that the economy wasn’t as bad as all that in 91/92, against the constant dinning narrative of “worst times evah” and many people in the field made ugly remarks about his mental health. (I thought his injunction to turn off the TV and the recession would go away was very apropos.)
I always find it funny when people on the left accuse those on the right of following some news program or narrative, particularly if that person is over 40. We not only had to disagree, but we had to find our path to disagreeing on our own, in our own way, and hold on to it, even when it seemed everyone disagreed with us, and we must be going crazy.
And the facts were out there and if you checked them again and again and couldn’t compromise, you resigned yourself to being alone and perhaps crazy. Or at least being considered crazy.
Some people out there are still feeling like they’re going crazy, but not as many. Do not mistake it. It was the blogs, the chats, the alternative news sites that made “Summer of Recovery” an obvious myth and a bust.
Oh, sure, the news media still has power, particularly with older people, but even with some people my age. Humans are social animals. They want to be in the right and know what “everyone knows”, they want to fit in.
Unfortunately our media is something like 90% leftist. And we’re not talking leftist like your uncle, the union pipe fitter. We’re talking to the left of Lenin, leftist. They didn’t need to coordinate narratives about Mitt Romney — a man who is at best lukewarm right, or perhaps European Social Democrat — being to the right of Hitler. They all really believed that because compared to them, EVERYONE is “extreme right”. Perhaps it’s the echo chamber effect, or the J-schools, who knows?
What I know is that they’re out of control, and every shooting in a dinky country town is made major by the need to push a left wing narrative. H*ll, remember the “bombing” of the NAACP in Colorado Springs. National news. International. The story went around the world. And yet, you know, when it came out, it was a guy bombing his accountant because he thought the accountant was ignoring him, and the accountant had died six months before.
Did anyone else ever hear of that correction? Or only us in this city? Do other people think Colorado Springs is some white supremacy town? Heck, the reason I knew that the bombing made no sense is that there aren’t that many minority populations in town, and those that are here are varieties of Hispanic. (And a thriving Portuguese community, too.)
However the attack on NAACP made perfect sense to the media, who looks for white privilege under every rock, while “it was just a crazy guy bombing his attorney” had no interest at all.
And that media — crazy as it is — still holds sway. It just doesn’t have as much power as it once did because we’re here. And we’re not quiet. They also fight, who only sling words and puncture holes in the narrative woven by the entertainment-news-industrial complex.
I know a lot of you are deep undercover. I even understand. Before I worked only for Baen and Indie I had layers and layers of secrecy and a completely invented identity for blogs. No, two identities, depending on the blogs. And I was afraid of making donations, because what if a blogger talked? And I lived in fear an in-joke from the blogs would escape during a party and people would figure it out.
Because being less than to-the-left-of-Lenin in my field amounted to career suicide, at least if you weren’t a bestseller or a Baen-only author.
I GET the secrecy. It’s really had to put your political beliefs, your social beliefs, your life philosophy above “baby needs shoes.”
And we are the people that make the world work. We’re the ones who look after others first. We keep quiet, we keep our heads down. We make things work.
But I want you to think about those narratives. And then I want you to think how they can be pierced by… no, not one voice, but many voices. What is it the professor calls it? An army of David’s with our little slingshot of words against the Goliath of the media.
The battle is ours. Or is starting to be ours.
This is the time we can use you, though. Think through it very carefully. If it’s not your life, not your livelihood, not your kids’ food, not your aged parents’ support — if you can sidestep, move aside into a career where that doesn’t matter as much; or if you can do it undercover, with a constructed identity– we need your voice. An army of Davids needs to be immense, because the reach of the media is. Shouting down Big Brother needs every voice.
If you can, if there’s any way you can join us, maybe all you’ll do is make someone else feel less alone, less crazy. Maybe all you’ll do is make someone else realize facts are facts. Maybe all you’ll do is give the next person courage to speak out. And they’ll give the next person the courage to speak out. And they’ll give the next person the courage.
An avalanche starts with a grain of sand, an insignificant, near imperceptible movement.
Which is to say: come out, come out, wherever you are!
Be not afraid.