November 06, 2004

barlow is magnanimous in defeat

John Perry Barlow is characteristically human and insightful as he works out his personal reconciliation over the election results. It's a long post with extensive comments, so pack a lunch before you go, but do make the effort to click your finger over there.

This bit really hit home for me, I'm embarrassed to say:

I have a terrible admission to make. I've been so fanatically opposed to this administration that I have taken dark satisfaction in their failures, even though they were American failures as well. I welcomed growing indications that the situation in Iraq was deteriorating into a sump-hole of back-alley insurgency. Good economic news was bad economic news as far as I was concerned, and vice versa. I was tickled to death with Al Qaqaa and its terrorist-purloined WMDs, and not just because the name was so great. Surely all these bad tidings would eventually add up to an indictment that would convict Bush in the eyes of the American people and they would rouse themselves from Fox-hypnosis and 'possum sleep and vote for change.

I found myself doing this as well. Not good. But I think it happens largely because of the way we understand events at a distance, through the lens of the various media. Ongoing news events are stories, and stories told through the frames and conventions of mass media and yes, the net, become abstracted away from the financial privations, the bullets, the human toll. News = sports = entertainment = weather. A class 4 hurricane is better TV than a tropical storm. The sensational double murder drives a legion of armchair pulp fiction investigators. And the ebb and flow of politically-linked events gives us a storyline, gives us villains to vilify, gives us a sideline strategy that will help our candidate reach the goal line and give us that vicarious thrill of victory we crave. (Or in my case, the agony of defeat I suppose).

Getting past this is going to be hard. W and his crew are not "my team", and I don't support their means even if we share the same ends. Their playbook sucks, and frankly, I question whether we even share the same goals. Regardless, I need to find new ways to peel away the layers of abstraction, understand the ground truth of events as much as possible, and try not to accept the framing that the media, all the media, impose.

Posted by Gene at November 6, 2004 04:10 PM | TrackBack

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