Online activism

This is from an email I sent to a couple of friends this morning about the tendency to forward messages we receive advocating activism to resolve some problem we see as important.

DP> Sorry, XXXX. This one’s older than the other one. See
DP> http://www.snopes.com/politics/gasoline/gasout.asp.

PP> I guess I want to do something about high gas prices for myself and
PP> friends. This is getting ridiculous.

Guys, yesterday you both sent me the same oft-circulated, but unfortunately simplistic, email, reflecting your desire to do something about rising gas prices.

My goal isn’t to make you feel bad about having done so. All of us have been bitten in the ass by our desire to take some simple step that might make a difference, so we have forwarded a message like that which sounds good only if you say it fast and don’t think about it too critically. I have fallen victim too, so I’m not any more critical a thinker than either of you or than most of our population for that matter. Simple answers are invariably seductive. (“For every human problem, there is a neat, simple solution; and it is always wrong.” — H. L. Mencken, Mencken’s Metalaw)

However, by contrast, this morning I caught the Senate Energy Committee’s 1 hour and 47 minute session on the Summer Energy Outlook on C-SPAN. Afterwards, having been impressed by it and thinking I might write a blog post about it, I searched for it online and found it at this link. It is the first search result at that link, and it requires RealAudio to view/listen to it. It will be available online only for the next 15 days.

I continue to be struck by how different it is to watch an actual news event (typically on C-SPAN) than to catch the sound-byte report of such events on the various news programs, and even more so, how different the actual thing is than listening to the slanted spin put on it by the so-called pundits, from either side.

If you have enough of a concern about the issue you wrote me about yesterday and if you are willing to expend the time and energy to spend almost two hours to become better informed about the subject, I’d suggest this is a good place to start. If not, I understand. It is a rare individual who is concerned enough to invest the time and devote the attention required to inform himself on such subjects before forming his opinion and/or speaking his mind. Since you are both thoughtful guys, I thought you might appreciate this pointer to this resource.

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