A childhood image that sticks with me is from a real hip show called Sky King. The main sponsor was so committed that their logo was incorporated into the show’s open. There would be a scene, ending with Schuyler (Sky) King, the heroic Arizona rancher, leaping into his trusty plane Songbird, and flying toward the horizon. The wings of the plane would then morph into the logo. The announcer made it explicit:
BROUGHT TO YOU BY…
For my fellow geezers, I’ll leave that as a trivia question for a bit, and look at this word explicit.
- Explicit from the Latin explicitus, “unobstructed,” past participle of explicare “unfold, unravel, explain.”
Since objective reality seems to be going the way of the dinosaurs, it’s more essential than ever that we apply a filter when confronted with each day’s innumerable True/False questions. Let’s ask ourselves, as we drink from the informational firehose
- Who is this brought to me by?
- Is the “sponsor” made explicit, and if not, why not?
- Is there some reason that–OK OK… Sky King brought to you by Nabisco–would want to lie to us?
- When there seems to be an effort to disguise the sponsorship, is it responsible to shrug our shoulders and buy the product anyway? Or sign the petition? Or vote for the candidate?
- And if the brand name of the sponsor is changed, does that really make it a different thing?
To my shame, I didn’t acknowledge the need to check my own filter, as opposed to focusing on the under-utilized filter of the guy who disagrees with me about everything. Then, Air America Radio came to town–briefly–and for a couple weeks I scored a fix during my commute each day. Scored a fix, Thad? Yes. And realized I needed to kick.
Had I not flirted with addiction in this way, it would have been harder to understand the Ditto Head, the Fan O’Hannity, and the Becktivist.
There is loads of hand-wringing about opioid abuse, but not enough being done to stem the tide of Backslapificasterixinalatorestafine addiction. This generic compound, in a time when everyone’s a journalist, an editor, and a widely untraveled reporter, is cheap, plentiful, and deadly for the collective brain that undergirds a democracy. Addressing the issue might even be called the ultimate private public infrastructure project.
Here’s the approach that seems to be working for me. Before my daily digging of the legit news, I like to check out a few avowedly fictional news sources, like Andy Borowitz and The Onion. That way, especially these days, my first response to the multiple sources I review comes straight from the young hotheaded John McEnroe:
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! Then, more calmly
Who (optional in the hell) is this brought to me by?