Sunday, January 27, 2008

Is This Really What We Want?

Today's media coverage with all it's paparazzi and celebrity "scoops" begs the question: Is this really what we want?

The recent coverage of the Heath Ledger tragedy brings this to mind. The poor fellow passes away and the media is all over it like a swarm of locust. While everyone is supposedly on the edge of their seat awaiting the toxicology and autopsy results, the media speculates, re-hashs, and hypothesizes ad nauseum. Even long after all the facts do come in, the "special reports", "exclusive updates" and "breaking stories" will continue. Of course each reporter will offer their standard disclaimer as if that somehow magically redeems their integrity. It's all ugly and unfair. But the part that gets me the most, the part that I feel you can never adequately protest, the part that never, ever seems to be reconciled, is the explanation this is "what the public wants".

That is just infuriating.

I hear that excuse in a lot of areas that are supposedly driven my "consumer opinion". Do I really want to drive alone to work everyday in a car that easily seats 6 passengers? Heck no, but there aren't many alternatives. OK, so they're going to market the Smart Car in the US this year - so what, it gets only 36 miles to the gallon. Frankly, it looks like it should get 136 miles to the gallon but the maker says it sacrifices milage for performance because it's "what the public wants".

Are we really making choices or are we just resigning ourselves to that which is closest to what we really want? If we're offered a red apple or a red apple and everyone chooses red - should we conclude that red is "what the public wants".

How different this world might be if someone truly listened to what we want.

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