I Hate Political TV, But the Political Internet is Fine

Tonight I briefly tuned in to Anderson Cooper’s show on CNN and quickly changed it away — the Iowa caucus was the story of the day, and I started hating on the candidates onscreen within seconds. Like Mary J. Blige, I too do not need no hateration, so off to hockey I went. I’ve also pre-emptively decided to avoid as much political TV as possible this year, possibly even the debates, in favor of reading about everything via digital media. Political TV, even mostly impartial news, just infuriates me in a way the Internet doesn’t. Why?

I’ve pinned it down to the fact that TV takes away the emphasis on idea exchange by adding in the visual element. If I’m making judgments about some proposed initiative that matters to me, I don’t want any of a number of talking heads all up on my screen trying to force me into thinking one way or another. Let me read what I want and process it rather than adding in the specific face I’ll end up wanting to punch — that just clouds my judgment. This argument isn’t to pretend that the Internet isn’t full of blathering, shouting morons, because any comments section is almost instantly infected by their vitriol and mistyped ooze. But when the most in-your-face communication these screamers can use is to type in all caps, it really doesn’t take much to brush past the bullshit online.

I’ll make the counterintuitive case that the Internet actually makes us more rational towards the issues than we were in the TV era — sure, it’s easy to fall into an echo chamber almost anywhere online, but how many people now are at least using some semblance of “facts” instead of who has better hair? Keep your face out of my face, and we all benefit.

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