Friday, September 2, 2016

Perspective of Constant Updates

Why do we hear about political polls almost daily for 6 months or more before the election?  Here is just one sample from a few weeks ago on CBS News: “Where Clinton and Trump stand with 90 days left.”  I just saw the headline and didn’t read the article, because it makes absolutely no difference where they stand 90 days before or even one day before the election.  It only makes a difference where they stand the day after the election.  This is not news.  It’s more like laziness, something they can sit in the office and collect off a feed from somewhere else.

This has been the trend in news for the last few decades.  They breathlessly report results of a poll, sometimes a poll they themselves have taken, about who is slipping or who is gaining.  That information may be useful to the candidates' campaigns, but not to voters who still have, in this case, 90 days to make up their minds.  It is generally a waste of our time; but if they can make it seem like news, they can draw in the viewers and advertisers to help pay their anchors millions of dollars (to read poll results and later in the broadcast complain about overpaid CEOs).

These same organizations will try to keep us up on election night watching them kill time by checking off states, showing partial returns and reviewing voter turnout, until they can make a final determination.  It’s unbelievable how many people fall for this, people who know deep down inside that the results will be the same in the morning and nothing is gained by staying up to hear those results six hours earlier.  The world is not going to changing in those 6 hours.  The new president will not take office for another two months, two months in which the media will be filled with stories about what might happen or who might be appointed to the cabinet, and gobs more speculation by insiders,  experts and even their fellow news reporters.

But we never learn.  The media has us trained to sit on the edge of our seats, soaking in these meaningless polling data and speculations.  We can’t wait to see what happens and need some expert to provide guesses to relieve the suspense.  Likewise, they compete for our attention with breaking news, of some disaster or incident from across the ocean or the other side of the country that can’t wait until a scheduled program – because it will affect our lives how? 

See how we are conditioned.  Ring the news bell and we salivate for the latest!

On a related note, why do I need a mobile app to check my bank balance on my phone from anywhere?  If I go out shopping, I will use my credit card that needs to be paid only once a month.  I will have plenty of time to come home and check my bank balance on my computer if I really need to.  Shopping with a list also reduces the chance of coming up embarrassingly short.  Yet the bank thinks they are doing me a big favor giving me the ability to check my balance on the fly.  Perhaps they think I will be going to lunch from the office unable to decide between joining my rich friends at the Ritz or my cheap friends at McDonalds.  I have to check my balance first.  Perhaps they are just trying to encourage me to live closer to the edge financially, knowing I can get away with it because I have my bank balance at my finger tips.

I don’t know.  I suspect they are just trying to compete for my business with all the other banks that will let me check my bank balance on my phone at any time from anywhere for some unfathomable reason.  Meanwhile they are paying a bunch of programmers to come up with nifty apps instead of using that money to pay me a just little more interest on the money I do have in the bank.  That would be an excellent way to compete.

This is about having perspective.  Slow down and get a grip on reality.  Don’t be lured in by the hype and simulated excitement.

Admit it.  Ninety-nine percent of breaking news is not that urgent or important.  A tornado warning in your county is breaking news; a plane crash in Egypt is not.  The only other time it might be important enough to interrupt my day is if my bank suddenly went out of business.  Then I could pull out my phone and find out immediately if I had any money left at all!

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