With the traditional news media, you, the reader, have no control over what’s published or broadcast as the day’s news. Messages are pushed out at you, whether you seek them or not.
The Internet, however, allows you to pull out information in which you have an active interest. As newspaper subscriptions continue to spiral down, you’re becoming your own editor, and are acting as your own gatekeeper.
You’re selecting news and views that you care about, and most agree with, filtering out that, which is insoluble in the solvent of your worldview, writes Nicholas Kristof, in the New York Times op-ed, “The Daily Me.”
This personalized “virtual communications product” that you’ve created by subscribing to dozens of RSS feeds is what M.I.T. tech guru Nicholas Negroponte, calls “The Daily Me.”
It’s not news in its strictest textbook definition, for it’s not a stream of information for information’s sake. Rather, it’s an affirmation of your latent biases.
We generally don’t truly want good information—but rather information that confirms our prejudices.
We may believe intellectually in the clash of opinions, but in practice, we like to embed ourselves in the reassuring womb of an echo chamber. And if that’s the trend, god save us from ourselves.
The effect of The Daily Me would be to insulate us further in our own hermetically sealed political chambers.
The decline of traditional news media will accelerate the rise of The Daily Me and we’ll be irritated less by what we read and find our wisdom confirmed more often.
The danger is that this self-selected “news” acts as a narcotic, lulling us into a self-confident stupor through which we will perceive in blacks and whites a world that typically unfolds in grays.
My taste in reading, overall, is dictated by my academic grooming, intellectual caliber, mental disposition, and a personal belief system, just like anyone else. It also rides on my frame of mind on any given day. But it’s safe to say that I give certain topics a wide berth: religion, academic works, poetry.
The rest—and there’s a lot of that—that I don’t mind reading. And certainly not when it comes to getting news.
Unlike most residents of the Internet, who graze only certain grounds of the electronic pasture, that which are most compatible with their values, I roam freely through conservative and liberal spiel; chatter from the left and the right; Democratic and Republican babble.
I tend to scan media outlets with a dispassionate interest; with a distant aloofness. I’m open to receiving my supply of information from any tank as long as it’s credible and grammatically correct.
Rants and raves, is another matter. I wouldn’t touch them with a long barge pole.
I’m, therefore, somewhat immune to “The Daily Me” phenomenon, by default. My training as a journalist makes me naturally inclined to being neutral—but only to an extent.
I’ve worked as a reporter in many suburban American newspapers, but never as a reporter, who also resided in those towns. Which is why, what I reported on were hardly ever issues (municipal elections, a board’s vote on a zoning regulation, the opening of a big-box-store in a pristine neighborhood, a jump in property taxes) I could be partial about, let alone take sides with.
But I’m less likely to take a deadpan approach, when confronted with broader issues that transcend the territorial borders of a county, a state, or a nation, such as gay rights, abortion, creationism, etc.