It’s Okay, It’s Just A Slimdown

I’m very late in noticing this but someone, somewhere (cough Republican headquarters cough), in the ongoing effort to re-brand Eric Cantor’s shenanigans as anything but shenanigans, had a meeting and proclaimed that the “shutdown” is actually a “slimdown.” Because a “slimdown” doesn’t sound nearly as bad as a “shutdown,” and actually sounds kind of good, right? Because everybody likes to slim down and lose some weight so their pants fit better. FOX News cough the unofficial news agency of the Republican party cough is completely on board with it. In fact I see FOX News (and only FOX News) “slimdown” headlines in my feed reader going back to October 1. They must have prepared ahead of time.

To be fair, “slimdown” technically is more accurate–it’s just very amusing to see Republican strategy at work. Maybe they think it will poll better with weight-conscious housewives.

Twitter versus Television

I happened to be off work yesterday, and found out about the Boston attacks on Twitter, and got all of my information about it from Twitter. I didn’t turn on a television, I didn’t turn on a radio, I didn’t even go to CNN.com or any other web site or RSS feed. Everything I heard came from Twitter status updates.

This morning, I started the NBC Nightly News audio podcast as I often do in the mornings. Of course, the Boston attacks led the news, thankfully bumping North Korea and whatever other random unimportant nonsense they usually talk about out of the spotlight.

Even over the opening theme music, you could hear people screaming in the background. There was a tagline “Terror in Boston” or something like that after the date. Brian said a few hyperbolic words. Then they proceeded to play what I assume was video of the explosions happening, but of course all I heard was a boom (repeated many times) followed by thousands of screaming people. It sounded exactly like that unnerving scene in Titanic after the ship sank and everyone was drowning in the water. I turned off the podcast before the first reporter got far into their story.

It was interesting to compare my reactions based on the way the news was delivered. My reaction to the news on Twitter was something like, “That’s awful, I hope everyone’s okay.” My reaction to the audio podcast was something like, “This is a disgusting exploitation of a tragedy that happened to occur on live video and I have no desire to support this.” I learned absolutely nothing new from the little bit of the podcast I heard. I got all of the information that was available from Twitter in a handful of 140-character tweets within an hour of the event: Two homemade bombs were set off at the finish-line of the Boston Marathon and there were a lot of casualties. As I write this, it’s noon on Tuesday, and I still don’t see much more than idle speculation in the regular media.

So I guess it’s true that Twitter is better at delivering relevant news in an efficient manner. And television news is so appallingly sensationalistic that it’s impossible to feel any connection to the news it reports.