Our Great Uncivil War

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Our Great Uncivil War

By Jaci Clement, jaci@fairmediacouncil.org

The internet introduced us to a world without boundaries. Humanity responded by going off the rails.

Is the lack of a sense of place the driving force behind this great uncivil war?

For hundreds of years, we relied upon printed newspapers to shape our space. Those newspapers defined our concept of community — so much so, that if one newspaper serviced two neighboring towns, the geography line between the two seemingly disappeared. That perception of community gave people a sense of belonging. 

Take that same idea and apply it to the virtual world and somehow, that sense of community gets lost in translation. Maybe it’s because of the intangibility of the internet. A printed newspaper gave you something to hold on to, didn’t it? There were stories you’d save, for both good reasons and bad. There’d be a recipe to clip, and your kid’s little league photo to hang on the refrigerator. The rest of the newspaper you could use to wrap fish, start a fire, or put into the recycle bin so that someday it would turn into a park bench.

The internet? It leaves no footprint. That’s all I got. 

 Television and radio are intangible, that’s true, but those two mediums have always been driven by faces and voices that came to be known and accepted as part of the fabric of the community. Something about news via the cold, lifeless internet remains inscrutable.

And maybe that’s why truth is no longer a priority.

A look at the news as we edge closer to election day and what do we see? Headlines talk less about issues and leadership, and more about violence. Having abandoned truth as a narrative, the public no longer seems to find a purpose in their lives for facts. Things are no longer about right or wrong. Today, it’s about getting attention. Something needs to fill the void cyberspace has introduced in our lives. 

And that brings us back to where this all started: Living in a time lacking in a sense of community. Experts thought the pandemic would drive us closer together. That didn’t happen. Maybe because the pandemic, like the internet, knows no boundaries. 

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