Sunday, October 18, 2009

Small Talk

Before television, I expect that in any metropolitan area or small town most people read one of one or two papers to get their news. I'm pretty sure there was not a Fox newspaper and an MSNBC newspaper, although newspapers definately took editorial positions.

When you go to work on Monday, you'll reconnect with your co-workers after being away from them for the weekend. Maybe you'll talk with them about sports that happened over the weekend. Why sports? Because it's the only thing that you and they both saw, can agree on, and can therefore talk about. Not the nightly news, not the newspaper.

You watched Fox (or MSNBC) and they watched MSNBC (or FOX) for your news (or their news). So there's no common ground for you to discuss what's going on in this country. And there never will be. If you ever did try to have a discussion with your FOX or MSNBC watching co-worker about what's going on in this country, it would likely not work, because there would be no premises upon which you could agree, and no basis for a conversation.You'd likely have an argument, just like what we see on television.

Pretty grim, that.

But I go to the grocery store almost every day, and I'm almost always able to have a small conversation with a stranger in line with me. I don't know that person's politics, and they don't know mine. We converse about small things, politely, and it's almost always a pleasant conversation. Much like I imagine people conversed before there was a 24 hour news cycle and a newspaper was all there was for news.

I'm all for that grocery line conversation. It's uplifting. It's between two human beings who haven't had the chance to judge each other. It's between two strangers sharing a small moment for a short time.

If we can build on things like that, there may be hope for us yet.

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