The Newspaper Cemetery
Naseem Javed | August 06,2010 01:26 pm IST
Despite all denials, newspapers all over the world are simply dying. The gravity of the problem is not that the competing media like TV or Internet are at play it’s rather that the public all over the world prefers moving pictures in the palms of their hands over deciphering or reading between the lines of nicely arranged words spread out on a paper blanket.
The Children of the Millennium
Historians will regard our current centuries as volatile, innovative and dynamic, yet the Paleontologist would agree that during the last millennium, we have hardly evolved at all. There goes all the IQ tests. As a result, we are still the same homo-sapiens, although erectus but still scared of the dark, carrying the same chains of emotions and fears, like babes in the woods, very cautiously we tread on this little planet. As children of this new millennium we now have new toys to play with, and some new buttons to push, while minds stay trapped in ancient behavior, responding to external stimuli with great caution.
The human mind naturally gravitates towards the easy flow of colorful moving pictures, where it likes to become a receptacle, while reading words forces the cerebrum to create imaginary moving pictures with its own logic, and exercise its own craft. But with regular watching, a kind of mental numbness takes over and the mind tries to go to sleep. Like watching very late night TV and getting out of body experiences.
Print-Society to Cyber-Society
If you are reading the newspaper today, then it is obviously yesterday’s news. The cumbersome process of cutting forests down all the way to print and distribute takes some many thousands of critical steps and this system perfected over a century is still too slow to feed the voracious appetite of the info-hungry creatures that walk the planet now. The sudden explosion of technology in the last few seconds on the clock of human evolution may appear to make us look suave over what we looked like a few minutes ago, but we are certainly trapped where we were hours ago. Where are you Darwin when we need you?
Sound Bite Culture
The short and crisp doses of sound bites have made us, around the world, a very well-informed and highly educated population, in sound-bites only. That’s it. The abbreviated versions of very complex issues demanding deeper and richer understandings are eliminated by short headlines, nicely arranged to fit cute small screens, as words are further corrupted and abbreviated to comply with this new lingo. Today the universe of text messaging is where the once-powerful print society of the last century was. Everything and all things are compressed into sound bites. The diversity and variety of trivial issues has taken over discussion and any chance for in-depth analysis.
Today’s youth is fully conversant about some 100 issues, as long no detailed explanations are required. This cursory knowledge incubates further fears and lack of confidence and also makes us gullible to any heavy bombardment of any strong and highly-repetitive message. The Orwellian model is passé, it’s more like the DigiSapians en masse preparing for our brains to shrink to the size of our fancy PDA’s. Miniaturization anyone?