Reflections on Life & Liberty
Don’t Get Angry, Get Active

Most of what passes for “news” in the 21st Century is little more than context-free filler taking up space between click-bait ads, multi-level marketing schemes, and woke corporate trash. It is designed to make the consumer feel a quick flood of emotions so they stick through the commercial breaks to get even more.

That is many things, but it is not journalism.

I chatted after an event recently with a fellow who spoke authoritatively (if factually light) on every national story of the day. He told me how he religiously flipped between several cable networks to “hear everything.” I watched his blood pressure rise as he recounted one soundbite story after another, and seemed desperate – like a junkie needing a fix – for more quick national news stories to make him angry.

He stared blankly when I asked his thoughts on state and local issues. He knew the detailed voting records of senators from other states… but did not know that standing next to us in this conversation was his county’s (long-serving) sheriff. He told me he didn’t vote in “governor elections,” only “for presidents.” 

Honestly, it made me sad. Instinctively, this fellow knew he needed to connect with people to engage effectively; the media and the political culture had not yet completely educated that out of him.

Just as pornography creates the perverted sense of sexual intimacy, much of what passes as “news” exists to create a false sense of civic activism.

On the crony establishment’s right, you have Fox News, to the left is MSNBC, and scattered in between is the formerly respectable Wall Street Journal and other print publications of dubious heritage. 

They breathlessly demand an emotional response to the stories of the day. They want us glued to our chairs, waiting for the next solution-free outrage. What they absolutely do not want is for any of us to get up and exercise our obligations as citizens.

News coverage of culture and governance is indistinguishable from sports. We pick teams and are conditioned to observe from the sidelines. 

It becomes all too easy to confuse simmering on the couch with walking precincts. Yelling at the TV or furiously clicking links might raise someone’s blood pressure, but it does not meaningfully impact the world like a conversation with a friend or family member.

The point of journalism should be unambiguous: to provide citizens the knowledge they need to effectively dominate government and culture. Everything else is entertainment.

Now, do not get me wrong. It is completely rational for the events of the day to make your blood boil; I would be worried if it did not! The question is not our emotional reaction to new information but rather what we do with it. 

As citizens, it is our duty to save the republic. We must be eternally vigilant. Our obligation cannot be outsourced to councilmen or representatives, mayors or presidents. To effectively manage civic affairs, we must be informed and engaged.

In our self-governing republic, it is up to each of us to make the affirmative decision to move from passive recipients of information to active participants in the fight for liberty.