A recent trend in the news and media today is the incresing number of “alternative news sources.” Many of us have heard of the National Enquirer, Globe Magazine, and others, and see their headlines when we go through the line at our local grocery store: “Oprah Secretly Gay!”, “Bush to Build his Own WMD,” “Amy Winehouse Secretly a Man!” These particular headlines and ones similar to them may be immediately dismissed as obvious poppycock. One of the more prevalent sources of “alternative news” is an online website known as The Onion, which features headlines such as “I’m Afraid We Will Never Win in Afghanistan Unless Central Command Gets A Pinball Machine” and “Colorado Wildfire Spread to Moon!”
This article was in fact inspired after I came to our weekly article assignment meeting and suggested writing an article on something that I thought was interesting and that in fact turned out to be fabricated. I asked if I could write an article discussing what turned out to be an article from The Onion, titled, “Study: Americans Get a Majority of Exercise While Drunk.” I saw this article posted on someone’s Facebook page and thought that it was actual news.
This occurrence is not limited to me. The prevalence of these tabloids and the growing popularity of The Onion and other sites is a sign that people have not become uneducated, but that the general populace has become obsessed with juicy gossip! Why has this happened, one might ask? Popular culture and its raving reporters and their feinted gonzo journalism are to blame.
TV, with its programs like TMZ, Jersey Shore, E! News, and others, encourages the actors to speculate or “gossip” about the other actors on the show or about things that are going on in the news, which may or may not be accurate. Entire segments of these shows are devoted to the actors on their own in an interview style room simply talking to the camera about something like whether Nikki just made out with Jessica’s boyfriend and how Teresa is going to get back at her.
Life as we know it has become dramatized; everyone has seen television and movies that emphasize the drama of people’s daily lives. This groupthink of who’s who and what’s what and how things are going is slowly eroding our society. Teenagers and adults alike have become focused on “making a splash” wherever they are. People will act out in the workplace, at school, hanging out with friends, or anywhere. People have for thousands of years struggled with their question of self-identity.
Do people’s lives need to be further complicated by the fact that, while searching for their identity, they have to deal with the firestorm of drama that has soaked our society? Everyone needs to detox and get rid of all of the drama that our society has been soaked in. Our lives are complicated enough!