The news that 9% of homeowners with a mortgage are either late in their monthly payments or are in foreclosure seems to have been with a resounding silence by the media and the public. This is a record number and an indication that the collapse of the housing market is just hitting its stride, rather than finding a bottom or beginning to recover. But on the scale of financial disaster, the people have apparently decided that this news does not even rate.
Maybe there is no financial disaster meter any longer in the public mind because nearly all of this type of economic collapse news is filtered through our television culture. Nine percent of homeowners in foreclosure is so out of context that it is entirely meaningless for most of the news-watching population. They are unable to appreciate what this number means, because they have nothing similar to compare it to; only further irrelevant information and more sound bites.
Foreclosure rates way up. McCain picks woman as VP. A few words from our sponsors. Local murder. Obama says something about faith. A few more words from more of our sponsors. Cubs lose. Olympics ended. A few more words from our favorite corporations. Weather will be nice tomorrow after rain tonight. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailed out. CSI coming up next. Enjoy our Thursday night entertainment lineup.
What is the connection between any of that information? And why should people care about the foreclosure rates anymore than they care about the latest Pepsi advertisement or the fact that the Olympics have ended? Most people are simply watching the news to ensure they have repeatable sound bites for work the next morning if a semi-informed discussion accidentally takes place.
In fact, the way that our news media reports information, nothing is connected to anything else. All of the stories reported on television turn into nothing more than sound bites from a continuous stream of too much data presented as news entertainment.
And no one should care about the foreclosure rates when they are being sold cars with 0% financing every few minutes. Financial Armageddon is bad, but if it is presented as entertainment and punctuated with psychologically rewarding commercials, then it is meaningless at best and actually encouraging at worst.
In fact, the very medium of television is so insulting to the intelligence of the average human being that people simply lower themselves down to the level of the medium and discount any attempts at critical thinking or analysis. If every few sentences, I inserted a few kind words about Gateway Computers or Amazon.com, most people would stop reading, believing me to be hopelessly distracted or even schizophrenic. But this is exactly how television makes all news irrelevant.
People’s ability to detect the collapse of our economy and financial system has been so deadened by years of having their intelligence lowered to the level of television that they probably will not care even if the system does collapse. As long as the Machine that delivers their ideas and entertainment does not stop, they will keep trusting in their unconnected distractions.