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Port: Things aren’t so cynical in the real world

By Staff | Sep 8, 2017

“Fifteen years ago, the internet was an escape from the real world,” Bloomberg View columnist Noah Smith posted on Twitter recently. “Now, the real world is an escape from the internet.”

That statement hit home for me. It must have done so for a lot of other people, too, as it has been retweeted over 120,000 times as I write this column.

There is a very large gap between how the real world around us looks to us, and how it looks when we view it through the distorting prism of the internet.

And cable television.

And the newspaper opinion page.

The latter view shows us an America that’s seemingly on the verge of civil war. One where we are fractured by identity and political ideology. Where every action is calculated and cynical and outrage is the most common sentiment.

The media are addled by bomb-throwing entertainers less concerned with illuminating issues for their audience than delivering them warm, fuzzy feelings of catharsis by screaming at the opposition.

From the former perspective we see something very different. Even in the most tragic of circumstances.

In Texas, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, we’ve seen leadership and heroism. From first responders. From local political leaders. From business leaders.

While dopey left wing newspaper columnists and ranting talking heads were busy scoring partisan points over President Trump’s supposed lack of empathy in his visit to the disaster zone (just as their right wing colleagues did to Democratic leaders in other circumstances), on the ground in Texas neighbors and friends and family strode into the awful reality of an epic natural disaster to help one another regardless of political allegiances or identity.

The latter is reality. The former is something else.

We’ve seen a similar spirit of cooperation here in our region.

Hundreds of people came together in the Fargo region to search for and later mourn Samantha Lafontaine-Greywind. She was the victim of a horrifying crime for which two are currently under arrest.

If it can be said that there is a silver lining to such an ugly, tragic situation it is that the people of the Fargo-Moorhead region stood shoulder to shoulder behind Samantha and her family.

That’s reality.

Much of what is called journalism today is not illuminating. It’s a quest to push the outrage button so that clicks and likes views rain down.

Social media, meanwhile, is a never ending stream of cynicism and cast aspersions.

The worst of both worlds is when journalists write stories about internet outrage, creating a perfect storm of stupid.

That’s not reality, my friends.

We should stop treating it as though it is.

Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Follow him on Twitter at @RobPort

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