Bad Media: Can I Blame the Internet?

Posted: June 2, 2012 in Bad Media

You see them all the time, though you might not recognize them for what they are. Fake, vapid, void of content, yet dressed up in a way to make you think they are the real deal. Yes I’m talking about Articles.

Be they in a magazine, the newspaper, or on the internet, bad articles are everywhere! The thing is, most people don’t ever realize they’ve read one. So the content-less content of written media continues to plague us.

Empty Content is Like Empty Calories, Yummy but Without Value.

I noticed them first in women’s magazines when I was teenager. All those pretty glossy pages filled with Photoshoped women telling me I’m ugly and fat, and all those articles telling me how to change myself so he’ll want to have sex with me. I was not interested in fostering self-hate, but I was intrigued by how many of the longer articles had page on page of words, but still said nothing.

Then I noticed the newspaper did the same thing. Not the “female-targeted self-loathing” thing, but the “long article, no information” thing. Still, most people I knew could differentiate between a well written article and a bad one. I’m not sure I can say that today.

I’m not really sure I can blame the internet for this, but I do know that I see lots more offences on the internet then I do in print media…but I’m also a lot more selective about my print media, so take that how you will… Still, it perplexed me as to why when I said an article was bad, most people didn’t understand why I said that. I asked my partner that one day, and got this answer:

“I don’t understand what you mean by ‘bad’.”

To which I ranted:

“It has not content! It’s just a list of things not to do with no suggestions as to what To Do! It’s empty of actual meaning, it’s just a bunch of cliche’s strung together. It’s like they looked up the Wiki article, reworded it a bit and submitted it!”

My partner still didn’t get it.

Reading – The Lost Art.

Perhaps it’s that most people aren’t taught to think critically anymore. Mine may have been one of the last generations that was halfheartedly taught to read. By ‘Read’ I don’t mean sounding out words and assigning them meaning, I mean absorbing those words and figuring out what the author was trying to say. Most people I encounter can read words, but they can’t read content.

It’s an interesting problem really, since with the internet at our fingers, we all feel like we’re so much better informed. Yet when we test the overall population we find that the public is less informed then before. Not to mention all the factual errors and that you can find support for damn near any opinion on the net. 

The Critical Eye.

I also think that my generation might be the last to have been taught how to think critically and question what we are taught.  I know that most schools ‘teach to the test’ and that means not teaching thinking, only regurgitation. So we’ve got adults that graduate for school who have never critically broken down an article or an argument.  It leads to believing anything you read or hear from someone presenting themselves as an authority. *cough cough Fox-News cough*

Being able to take apart an article should be a  life skill taught in grade school and perfected in high-school. Unfortunately, like reading critically, it’s become a lost art, and I think society is suffering for it. There is so much crap writing out there, people don’t know when they’ve read something void of  any content. I’m also beginning to think people don’t know when they’ve written things devoid of content either, which is it’s own problem I can trace back to  high-school. 

Filling You In.

So, what is the point of this long rant? Excellent question! 

You see, I have decided to take this problem on. I’m going re-post the articles I find that really tick me off, and break them down for you. Maybe as I rant my way through an article I might impart some piece of knowledge on you, dear readers, and you’ll be able to see what makes an article bad. Once you can do that, I really hope you will pass that on to others, especially your children, and maybe we can claw our way back from the empty content of bad media.

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