Add this to the list of gripes about the media: At the very same time they are riddled with commentators complaining about how the Yuletide season is overdone, particularly the Christmas gift-giving frenzy, the media are the ones overdoing it. That’s because of advertisers, of course, the businesses that profit from the sale of those presents. From the moment the temperature dips below 90, the snowflakes begin to pop up in malls and online, along with all the other holiday decorations announcing one Black Friday price reduction after another. It starts in mid-September, once the back-to-school sales have petered out.
So you’d think finally, we are past the seasonal annoyance, right? WRONG! What could be more irritating than end-of-the-year commentary? Every pundit and expert who has ever existed has found it necessary to review the past year and predict the one coming up. Our papers are full of them right now -- trends in politics, every form of art, the whole gamut of sports. I’m sure that some writer somewhere has persuaded a publication to run a piece on the latest strategies in curling, just as I’m convinced that a knitting expert has found a home for his or her thoughts on the latest techniques for purling and what they mean for making ugly holiday sweaters.


While we're on the subject of knit stories, there are always some nit-pickers out there who insist that the new decade doesn’t begin until the year ends in a “1,” i.e., 2021. These people are just seeking attention; ignore them. We are, in fact, ending the Tense ’10s and moving into the ... what should we call the ’20s? A century ago, they were the Roaring ’20s. This time around, are we entering the Deploring ’20s? Politics is the story that slops over the dividing line, particularly the hateful politics of resentment. Donald Trump is a champion at tapping into the grievances of his followers; his enemies are just as aggrieved at his success at that. For both sides, a day without whining is like a day without sunshine.
Speaking of whining, by now all the dissections of what has happened to media are enough to make you gag. We do love to write about ourselves. But let’s encapsulate it all into one sentence: Traditional media are in deep doo-doo, victimized by technology.
Actually, higher and higher tech has brought down nearly every established institution; our landscape is littered with their debris. The lost battles include the right to privacy and the value of reflection. There’s no time for such trivialities. We can get where we are going faster, guided by inventions like GPS. Unfortunately, where we are going is usually disaster.
Good grief! I have started doing what I was ridiculing, groping for a a coherent meaning of this decade. There is no simple narrative. It takes time to mull over the currents that flow every which way over a 10-year period. Instant conjecture is invalid, and so is any speculation about what happens next. We can probably remember what happened over the 10 years, but how it all fits and what it portends is beyond the comprehension of anyone who is being honest about his or her limitations.
Not that all of us pundits are inclined to be honest, and that’s why we author these think pieces. Most of us have selective memory to begin with, those who can even recall what occurred in the past 10 years. Personally, I’m not always sure what transpired 10 minutes ago.
It was 20 years ago when we slipped into a new millennium. At least the essays from New Year 2000 had the benefit of a thousand years of time. But the reality is, we rarely learn from history and certainly not the instant kind we read today. One prediction we can confidently make though: We will make the same mistakes moving forward.

© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 31, 2019 7:30 AM.

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