Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"Why isn't anyone talking about ...?" (9 Aug. 2013)

I have a request to make to talk-show hosts. The next time a member of your panel or a caller-in asks "Why isn't anyone talking about ...?" or asserts "No one is talking about" — stop them and, especially for a caller, ask them to perform a quick Google search. Chances are that whatever they think no one is talking about, someone out there is talking about, and at length. Indeed, if it's a matter of public interest, there's a good chance a number of people are interested enough to talk about it, set up a web site on the subject, and are busy uploading text, images, and probably a video or two.

Similarly — if conversely or reversely or whatever — similarly, if a Washington wonk says, "Everybody is talking about ...", stop the person and ask for a quick guess of the percentage of the 16-and-over population of, say, Hamilton, Ohio, talking about that topic, or for that matter what percentage of Americans are likely to give even a single cheek of a rat's ass.

Trust me here; I taught English for forty years, and I'm telling you it's okay to say, "I think we need to talk more about" — whatever. It's okay to say that, "You know, the sort of people I talk to around ______ have been really concerned about" — whatever. You aren't required to be the first person in this arm of the galaxy to bring up an issue for the issue to be worth looking at. You don't have to assume that everybody shares your interests and/or the interests of your group.

Please. Panel moderators really should direct discussions, and when people are about to unload even small dollops of bullshit, just stop them.

Thank you. 

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