I was looking at one of our local Newspapers, the Post, dated in 2006 that featured an article of our beautiful family of four. BABY JOY FOR COUPLE!!! We all grinned very joyfully for the man behind the camera on that particular day in autumn and when I say all, even our baby managed a gas that materialised into a smile for the camera. I remember the interview with the reporter somewhat vaguely. She sat across me asking me relevant questions and continued jotting down notes in her book like we were some prominent people in society, like the Osbournes. Questions were liberally and innocently answered as we casually sipped on a cup of tea………No wait! Rewind! There was no tea in this scene.
Far back as a decade ago, newspapers were still the primary source of information, here in South Africa at least, and once in black and white, it was very hard to correct any information that was in print. People who read the article has already formed an opinion about you and very unlikely will take to a second article that corrected the initial mis-information, taking into consideration that not everyone could afford the local newspaper all the time, thus leaving them clueless to the correction of the article.
Opinions also rarely mattered then, or should I re-phrase that and state: opinions were not instantly available except for the aunties who were kitchen door neighbours that stood outside with curlers in their hair and in their nightgowns, during the spare time given to them; between the kids departure to school and the husbandry before they got back home, chirping away with their counterpart over the concrete fence that separated both the houses, if they even had one of those back then, is that the concrete fence not the aunties that chirped. That is where the opinions ended! With the endless chirps of the home executives playing a game of Chinese Whispers or Broken Telephone!
Newspapers had a prominent role in society but that role has slowly been diminished by the active increase in social media and instant messaging. Back then journalist basked in their glory of slight and somewhat sinister exaggerations to get snatched up in a hurry by the corner of an eye of some unsuspecting runner to the bus station. The ambiguous headlines also left one no room for thought and to get Curious George out to play. “Eyes drops off Shelf!” “Eyes drops off Shelf! OR “Prostitutes Appeal to Pope!” “Prostitutes Appeal to Pope” …… “Come get your copy now!” screams the paper boy who makes his bucks of these catchy ambiguities.
Have times really changed? Or have we become our own worst journalists, reporting on every whims and fancies leaving no room for cobwebs and dust to collect in the corners. Humans thrive on each other’s mis-haps and on their controversy. We sit very smug behind our alter ego and become experts in any field that feeds the controversy. Facts become distorted and fallacies are the auto immune disease of the new generation of bit and bytes.
Information at your fingertips! There is a great plus side to all of this, though it may be a bittersweet experience for some (most?) Homo sapiens. If we can bear the patience and sift through the dis-ease and the jibber jabbers, there are little specs of star dust hidden eloquently in a nest of wisdom exposing the truths and facts. If we can strip away the over-reactions to the modern day trolls and just take 10 seconds to breathe, count to 10 if you have to, to soothe yourself and think before you comment or re-post. As your fellow sapien I would need to take my own advice.
A Journalist then may have interpreted the truth for their own benefits of selling a newspaper. It was their job to expose the truth in an animated way. They knew people loved stories but they also knew they could not lie or deform a character. It was their oath for the public to get the truth and nothing but the truth no matter how much action they jam packed in it. The truth was there, somewhere, hidden amongst all the flowery semantics.
We have certainly evolved in technology, but has man evolved to making better critical use of the information at hand? Or have we been so dumbed down by technology and instant gratification that we have lost the ability to think for ourselves, or think?!!
We have not changed; we just became better at playing Chinese Whispers!