A REVEALING TALE ABOUT MISDIRECTED ATTENTION IN THE MEDIA
As I sat down to write a new article for the Flipside, I went to do my so-called “research.”
Today, I decided, the perfect topic to write about was this so-called “Balloon Boy.” When balloon boy came up in our meeting and we brainstormed ideas about it, I realized this was just an unbelievable topic to satirize. Mainly–when things that happen in the real world seem fake, you know the opportunity is ripe for irony and satire.
Let me explain a little more.
I went to go read more about what happened with this balloon boy so I could come up with some sort of coherent viewpoint and a set of ideas and a perspective for my writing. I searched Google for balloon boy and started to read some articles, and while doing so, realized how this event is extremely meta.
My one sentence take: The balloon boy incident is really about how a hoax fooled the media, and then fooled the rest of us, and in doing so, succeeded in its publicity stunt.
So why was reading the news on this meta? Well, the news is exactly what caused and blew up the problem in the first place. I was reading these reports which were the source of all the fuss initially.
So where to look for credible information? I think the answer to this very important question is not where to look, but how to look. We look when someone points, that is kind of a given of human behavior. But I think the thing we can control and the thing we should work on is to look carefully. Look slowly and think over the timing, the source, and the motivation of the information.
At the end of this, I am still unsure what to make fun of about balloon boy, but it is a very interesting topic to think about how the media can lead us astray. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no… it’s Balloon boy!
See my research paper on critical reading here
See an article with similar ideas from the wall street journal here
3 thoughts on “Look over there! It’s Balloon Boy”
and Frank Rich of the NY Times Op-Ed wrote an article as well. Good point, glad you caught it. It was amazing how this “news” came across my blackberry and I initially assumed it was “real”.
In world history a couple weeks ago we were talking about the meta-reality of something in ancient civilization. He asked us what meta means and none of us got it right. He said that meta means overarching. I thought it meant something reflected within itself, but he said no. Interesting post…but I dont know if I fully understand meta
For someone who loves Malcom Gladwell, seemingly more than a hooker loves slightly insecure men with money (fat kid loves cake just seemed a little too cliché,) you seem to be putting a lot of faith into a long and thoughtful deliberation. Do you think that maybe long and thoughtful deliberation is what causes the belief? When we go back and forth in our heads making arguments for both sides, we can easily start to fabricate “truths” about something completely false.