Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Don't Byte Me

I've noticed a disturbing pattern emerging. Our culture is moving too quickly. Nothing wrong with speed, if moves lines along, belongs to your first choice in a 6 furlong sprint, or can hasten a conversation going nowhere. But what's up with so many things being reduced to short sound bytes. It's laughable what has happened to newscasts on most networks. With the exception of PBS, which actually tries to let a few people speak until they've completed a thought, most everything else is useless. After the local crime blotter, the weather (why is that news?) a smattering of national news, it's time to recap.
Want to see something that states the case nicely? Try this. Look at how the morning shows like TODAY, GMA or The Morning Show handle their feature spots. Usually it's some expert in real estate, or cleaning products, or exercise. *Note they recycle the same themes constantly* These little segments are so rushed that both the interviewer and interviewee are spitting out words as if they'll be cut off momentarily. In fact, that is the case. My favorite situation is when they have two "experts" featured in the spot. They often talk over each other, vying for position and speech like two jockeys going for the same opening simultaneously.
No wonder Ringo Starr was pissed when, he cancelled a recent TV appearance because his 4 minute song was cut in half. He said, thanks very much, I'll come back another time when you can hear the entire song. Don't hold your breath. It's not about privilege, it's about not valuing art. What does it mean that some crazed producer thinks he's doing important work by reducing everything to ever shrinking sound bytes? I'm troubled by this trend. Makes me think a bit deeper about a culture where quicker, shallower, more superficial is better. What happens when we read a book too quickly? Oh, I forgot, most folks don't have time for that any more.

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