Our local CBS affiliate station begins its news with the line: “Here’s what people are talking about.” You know, I really don’t want to know what people are talking about. I’m more interested in what people are not talking about. I’m not looking for confirmation of what I know (or think I know), but information about what I don’t.
It’s not just CBS, of course. As part of their programming, all the evening news programs now solicit feedback to a question they have deemed current and relevant, and then air some of the tweets or emails they receive in reponse to that question—as news!
After the recent passage of the Health Care Bill, the question our local FOX affiliate asked one evening was: “Are you happy with the health care you currently receive?” Now I’m sorry, but that’s just the wrong question. Because my straightforward answer to the question is, “Yes, I am happy with the health care I receive.” But—but I’m not at all happy about how rates for that care have risen each year—often by double figured percentages. And I’m also not at all happy about how many people don’t have the kind of care I take for granted. I’m also not happy that the news doesn’t encourage me to think beyond the straightforward—to think beyond myself. I’m not happy when the implications of simplistic questions cater to egocentricity if not selfishness—to too small a way of thinking. So how does straightforwardly answering “yes” address all the “buts?”
And, yes, I’m willing to experience a little more inconvenience, if that’s what it means—if it means that more people will be cared for—if it means that insurance companies won’t be allowed to ruthlessly prioritize making profits over providing health care.
Because it’s not just about whether I’m happy with what I’ve got. And shame on those who would allow it to be that.