Did you hear that Paul Walker ate green eggs and ham? Did he eat them with a mouse? Did he eat them with his spouse? Did he eat them in a chair? Did he eat them anywhere? We may never know if Walker ate green eggs and ham, but what we do know is that right now, if a story is written about Paul Walker, no matter how absurd, someone will read it. In fact, it is practically impossible to write a story about Paul Walker that people won’t read. But they won’t read so many other stories; so many other stories that are so much more important.
What does that say about our society? All over the world, children are dying of starvation in the streets; material was stolen today to make a dirty bomb; our economy is in shambles; the national debt is crushing everyone; unemployment rates are rather dismal; the country is polarized over guns, religion and money; the U.S. education system lies in ruin; we’re at war.
Every day, people complain about “the media” not reporting on important things, and yet, they’ll immediately and happily click on a story about a celebrity even though they did not know that celebrity and even though the title of the story is incredibly and thoroughly ridiculous.
This is not to scold you, dear reader, for we all click entertainment pieces and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with escaping once in a while. The problem is, celebrity gossip is beginning to become the only thing people click on. You see, newspapers know exactly what people are reading, and not only do we know what people are reading, we know when they’re reading it, how long they stay on the page, what region of the world the page views are coming from, and what precise time of day people are reading. We rank and analyze stories every second of every day in real time, so that a clear picture begins to emerge about what is offered and consequently, what people consume.
Here is what people mostly consume: celebrity gossip and video game articles; and not much else. Oh, it’s not that other things aren’t offered; quite the contrary. Certainly, a wide range of articles in world events, commentary on important newsworthy issues, and political news that can affect each and every one of us are offered in abundance…. But it’s not what people read.
People would rather find out if Paul Walker ate green eggs and ham than find out about a crucial new policy that will change their lives permanently. They’d rather gaze at Miley Cyrus’ naughty bits than find out what they can do to put pressure on their congressman or woman about issues that are important. They’d rather read a story on a celebrity dying than a child dying of cancer in their own neighborhood and potential new treatments that could save that child’s life.
There is nothing to be ashamed about when clicking on an article titled Paul Walker Ate Green Eggs and Ham? But do consider taking equal time for more significant matters once in a blue moon. May Paul Walker rest in peace and may issues of more importance somehow also find a way to come to the forefront.
By: Rebecca Savastio