We keep hearing about how awful it is that with the rise of the Internet people now flock to news sites that fit their worldview. We keep hearing about how awful it will be if the 500 channel cable television bonanza is lost to people jumping into their own personal warren holes of specialized subscription channels made available by the new frontier of streaming. If you think about it, though, these complaints are really a defense of mass culture and mass media, not so much an opposition to balkanization.
Mass culture and mass media are hugely important when it comes to how the Left influences and exerts a form of control over America. As of now, the mainstream media and mainstream culture (TV, movies, music, etc.) are almost wholly owned and controlled by Leftists. And they use this power to shape opinion, especially the opinion of young people on political and social issues.
Balkanization terrifies these folks because it means a loss of control. Suddenly they don’t have access to 300 million-plus Americans because we have all gone our own separate ways. Some of us subscribe to Glenn Beck. Some of us subscribe to Howard Stern. Some of us subscribe to streaming networks that feature Sarah Palin, Paula Deen, and one of the dozens of Christian networks available for free through Roku. Others subscribe to the Huffington Post, and other left-wing streaming sites.
As far as news, we’re not so much looking to have our worldviews confirmed, as much as we’re turning to those news outlets we trust. There’s a reason more Democrats watch Fox News than they do MSNBC. There’s a reason (except for work) I won’t go near the Washington Post, CNN or The New York Times but trust and respect the very left-wing L.A. Weekly.
To paraphrase “Seinfeld,” balkanization is real and it is spectacular. Because the Internet and streaming make the distribution of news and culture affordable for almost anyone, the very few can no longer bottleneck mass distribution; the very few can no longer control what we see, read, and hear; the very few can no longer blacklist a Paula Deen out of the culture.
Keep in mind that in the history of Western Civilization, mass media and mass culture are aberrations — a 20th century creation created by radio, television, and Hollywood. Prior to that, for centuries, communities and families created their own culture. The outside world didn’t have the power to interfere, influence, and oftentimes corrupt.
Western Civilization was culturally balkanized for most of its existence, and progressed just fine without the toxic sludge of MTV, CNN, and Hollywood — all of which openly compete with parents for the hearts and minds of children.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re never going to go back to the way things were before television and radio. I do think, though, things are going to improve as all of us, especially parents, are allowed to freely and inexpensively (compared to cable television) subscribe to the news and entertainment that fits our values, and allows us to better filter out that which doesn’t.
Politics aside, think of how much more interesting, and dare I say diverse, America would be without our Centralized Culture and Information Gatekeepers constantly pressuring us to think, believe, talk, dress, and be a certain way. This would be especially healthy for blacks and gays who are put under unbelievable pressure from the Left to BE a certain way.
Balkanization doesn’t just mean freedom, it means a million cultures bloom that bring with them different ideas, and maybe some innovative solutions.
It is for this reason (and many others) that I love the idea of home schooling. Removing as many kids as possible from the mass culture that comes with peer pressure and the diseased mentality of too many of our public schools, can only bring good things.
It is the Left that almost exclusively lashes out against this creeping balkanization. But aren’t they the ones who are supposed to love diversity and multiculturalism?
Families should be America’s cultural arbiters and opinion makers.
Power to the people.
John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC