theCriticalThought.com May 2017          Tom Ersin, Managing Editor
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The Thinker

Mel Gibson, Drunk
With (digital) Power


Citizen journalism in the 21st century



Look how digital media has hurt us. Politicians and celebrities, for example, have it much tougher in the digital age. It seems their every utterance is recorded and archived. So when the president says he never said this or that (but he really did), the professional (or not) media can refute this in hours or minutes by finding and broadcasting his original statement — which he, in fact, DID say.

And when a poor movie star has one bad day during which he gets drunk, hangs Mel Gibson with two ladiesout with some young party babes, drinks some more, drives his Mercedes on a highway he thinks he owns, gets pulled over, verbally abuses a cop he thinks he owns, indicts an entire race for all the problems (real and imagined) of the world (which he thinks he owns), has his slurticious ethnic soliloquy recorded by the nice policeman that pulled him over, has his picture taken by the nice policewoman down at the station — next thing he knows, the poor movie star finds his stuporous mug shot and drunken rant all over the Internet. You denigrate one race — one measly ethnic group! — and they forget all about those thought-provoking buddy-cop movies you made and all that you’ve done for Beverly Hills.

Of course, digitally archiving information has made all manner of research easier and faster. And its availability has expanded to the common woman in addition to professional researchers. Because of this information digitization and its wide accessibility, we now have citizen-scientists, citizen-journalists, citizen-gossip columnists, etc. Everything that used to be only available to professionals or the incredibly resourceful is now there for anyone with a computer and an Internet connection.

The flip side is everything that used to be only available to professionals or the incredibly resourceful is now there for anyone with a computer and an Internet connection. We’re all aware of how information can be misused. Maybe (What do you mean, maybe?) we shouldn’t have access to bomb-making plans or the ABCs of How to Effectively Commit Suicide — and Get It Right This Time. Maybe (WDYMM) we shouldn’t be able to harvest personal or damning information about our neighbor. This is another conundrum wrapped in a cannoli ( — thanks to Sha Na Na). It’s good versus bad. It’s yin versus yang. How can we reconcile these new capabilities with their concomitant abuse potential? It's a tough question.

No discussion of digital media would be complete without mention of the social networking sites: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and YourSpace. Now we can communicate with potentially anyone, anywhere, while maintaining total anonymity — or not. Good or bad? It all depends on your perspective and your motives.

It goes without saying ... I guess I’d better say it: Many things are different when it comes to minors. With the Internet, as with so many things, we just can't always allow kids to do whatever adults do. We can argue about the cutoff age — when a kid becomes an adult — and how it’s different for different kids. But we have to draw some kind of line somewhere and accept that not everyone will agree. Or we could ask all the kids what THEY think we should allow them to do.

It’s an information revolution, but is there really much new information? For the traditional media that has adapted to Internetization, the newness is in its speed and variety — or splinterization, if you like. (That’s two more new -ization words. Can we go for four?). The new new kind of information, meaning messages we’ve never heard before, come from fringe media sources that previously did not have effective outlets. Like it or hate it, the Drudge Report probably could not have gotten off the ground without the Internet. It likely could not have secured start-up funds. In the Internet age, however, Mr. Drudge didn’t need much funding. I guess if you can develop a following by word-of-mouth and linkbacking, more power to you (and the people).

The large majority of Internet consumers receive most of their information from a small group of media conglomerates, just like cable TV, radio, and newspapers (near-extinct source of information in the form of black text on large sheets of paper, periodically printed and distributed). For those consumers, the Internet is just another channel for the same brand of noise. But for those dogs that are willing to dig deeper, there is a wealth of new, previously inaccessible, information.

Granted, there’s a lot of tripe out there. If we use care in judging its quality and veracity, however, there’s a sea of good information to be had. For example, how do you think I researched and launched my new PAC: The Campaign for the Acronymization (number four — YES!) of America (TCFTAOA, pronounced: "TIK - FOOT - AYE-OH-AH")? FYI, TCFTAOA pledges not to make a BFD out of every FUBAR or SNAFU that the USA, CIA, FBI, AAA, ASPCA, NATO, NASA, MADD, FADD, PTA, FAA, and FFA gets themselves into. Also, r u my bff on the www? CFI care. ■



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An Internet magazine sharpening the satiric edge of critically thoughtful communication while exploring media, culture, and cellphone etiquette.

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Mel Gibson with hands on face

 

Maybe (What do you mean, maybe?) we shouldn't have access to bomb-making plans or the ABCs of How to Effectively Commit Suicide — and Get It Right This Time.

 

Mel Gibson mug shot

 

We can argue about the cutoff age — when a kid becomes an adult — and how it's different for different kids. But we have to draw some kind of line somewhere. Or we could ask all the kids what THEY think we should allow them to do.

 

Mel Gibson pouting

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