Archive for August, 2013

the difference between chatter and conversation

August 1, 2013

I try my best to make my internet roaming too idiosyncratic for search engines to anticipate.   You might recognize me as the person who talks to the television and wanders the library aisles pulling out books with intriguing titles.  Basically, I resist being corralled, whether by people or by things people have created.

Tuesday I clicked on a story about a tv reporter who’d been fired for her personal blog.   She’d been writing about how she’s scared of old people or how she wasn’t wearing a bra on camera one day. 

When I repeat her blog’s topics, I’m merely repeating the story’s assertions.  My curiosity on how this might relate to the subject of censorship had quickly expired.  Who fricking cares?  The poor little chatterbox had bought hook-line-and-sinker the idea that everything that happens in her life was worth repeating. 

It’s not difficult to see how this happens.  Our culture is dealing out what I like to call the “Oprah-mentality” the same way we once gave plastic beads to the Native Americans.  Ooh, pretty.  Tell me some more about yourself.  Aren’t you interesting?  Now, don’t look while we steal your land or your rights.

To be able to say whatever you want feels democratic.  Here we are, all precious individuals, lining up for our 15 seconds of fame.  Then when someone like the little red-haired reporter steps over the line of TMI, we can talk about her meaningless indiscretion, much like TV viewers laugh at contestants on American Idol who can’t sing.

But it would be something all together different if, in her reporting, she’d uncovered incriminating evidence about government malfeasance or corruption.   Had she brought truths to light that were intended to stay in the dark, expanded our public consciousness which internet’s distracting chatter is designed to narrow, a much longer arm than her employer’s HR department would have reached out to dispatch her.



It’s certain that the debate whether Snowden and Manning are heroes for disclosing our government’s crimes or they are traitors for contravening their oaths of complicity and silence will not soon be resolved.  And it shouldn’t be.  It’s just such a topic, as well as the information they brought to us — in acts as bravely audacious as Prometheus’s theft of fire, that deserves the distinction of “conversation” versus meaningless “chatter.”