So we have the youngest, hippest, coolest president since JFK, and he admits he doesn't even know how to work an iPod, an iPad, an Xbox or a Playstation. Must be a bitter disappointment for those who were delighted to believe George H.W. Bush was ignorant of grocery scanners or who cheered on the Obama campaign for mocking John MCain's "computer illiteracy." But Obama has a reason for disliking all these new information dispensers (except, presumably, his Blackberry) -- they're evil:
You're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank all that high on the truth meter," Obama said at Hampton University, Virginia.
. . .information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," Obama said.
He bemoaned the fact that "some of the craziest claims can quickly claim traction," in the clamor of certain blogs and talk radio outlets.
"All of this is not only putting new pressures on you, it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy."
That damn, pesky democracy and all that distracting, inconvenient information to be sorted into truth and fiction! But this isn't a "new pressure" at all. In fact, we have achieved again what our ancestors once had with the penny press -- everybody putting out different versions of reality that must be sorted out. From many voices, one truth -- that's why the First Amendment has been so important in ensuring that all voices can be heard, not just the ones that please President Obama or his political opponents.
There's a serious issue lurking in there somewhere. The Founders presumed that people would be inclined to listen to all those voices and figure out something resembling reality. But we're so polarized today that we're more likely to stick with the information providers that reinforce our own beliefs. It's probably always been that way, just not as pronounced as it is today, and at least all those shades of opinion are out there for those who care to take them into account.