The Information Dichotomy

A political and cultural divide grows. Nobody talks about it, but we all talk around it. How cannot something dramatic result from the explosion of information we've experienced over the last decade?

Everyone with Internet access now has the ability to sift through a thousand sets of regularly updated encyclopedias - by keyword - near instantly. How can this not affect how we behave and make decisions

The answer is it has and does. It must.

We're all absorbing as much or as little as we care to about our preferred subjects, or simply those items that come to mind while online. And that's not a bad thing.

If this knowledge radiated out like petals it could amplify a spectrum of views, perhaps generating consensus on subjects now painfully contested. But the information presented seems either perilous or pedantic, low brow or elitist. It appears bent on hardening the beliefs we already hold.

A report released last week by the esteemed Pew Research Center for the People & the Press llustrates how major news sources suffer from this partisanship:

In short, Dems like CNN and Pubs like Fox. Go figure. In describing the disparate interpretation of trustworthy news organizations depending on party affiliation, the report states:

"The partisan nature of these ratings is underscored by the fact that, while roughly the same proportion of Republicans and Democrats view Fox News as credible, Fox ranks as the most trusted news source among Republicans but is among the least trusted by Democrats

So, while only 29 percent of Republicans believe everything Fox has to say - just five percent more than Democrats, they name it their favorite mainstream outlet. This begs the question: What sources do they trust implicitly?

One has to look no further than to see how more and more news sites are presenting themselves as founts of truth while carrying heavily loaded messages. At least the lefty sites tend to acknowledge from the outset they support progressive causes and ideas. Try to find an About statement on NewsMax identifying it as the conservative mouthpiece it is.

And this is the tip of the hateburg. NewsMax is moderate in that it publishes only articles and opinions that could be construed as based in fact. Many, many more simply spew bile. This is not to say these extreme sites don't have their counterparts on the other end of the spectrum. Indeed, this is my point.

Both sides seem to be growing increasingly vocal while stepping further apart. And they are taking what were once moderates with them. You can no longer be an individual in America because the polarity of our opinions forces us to choose a side from the onset.

If you care to make your voice heard on a mailing list, expect to be labeled X or Y in the first response. If you support cause A, then B and C must follow. And so on. We feud over wedge issues (gun control, gay marriage) while our rulers skip away, indifferently happy.

Pretty soon, our differences may be irreconciliable. What then?