Low Information Technicians

Recently I was reading an internet forum regarding the Presidential election. A commenter was lamenting that other people were “low information voters.” I thought about this and came to the conclusion that in a sense we all are dealing with “low information.”  Here’s why …

The nature of most organizations, especially the media is to insure self-survival. How do they do this? By providing valuable goods or services to their customers/audiences/members!

Is there a non-partisan and unbiased arbiter who determines which organizations are performing well and which are not? In most industries, no. It is instead left up to the customers/audiences/members to individually decide. Are they qualified? And even in industries that do have professional boards or governance organizations that maintain standards, often times they are slow to discipline poor performing members.

The media and many churches for that matter are no different.

All media (‘my chosen profession’ to borrow a line from the Godfather) has the goal to insure their audience remains consumers of the media product (the newscast, or the sporting event, or the entertainment show, etc.).

Whether the content is delivered in print, or on television, or radio, cinema or the internet, contemporary audiences “click ‘like’” on things they like or want to consume (that which agrees with them) and they ignore, or “unlike” that content which disagrees with their preconceived notions, beliefs and opinions.

As a result, and considering the need for self-survival (“the profit motive”), producers of content often willingly and intentionally create “echo chambers” of content. What is an echo-chamber of content? Its content that agrees with their audience’s preconceived notions, beliefs and opinions while consciously or subconsciously underreporting, or failing to report content that disagrees with their audience’s preconceived notions, beliefs and opinions.

Here is an example: You are unlikely to find certain stories or details/facts reported on Slate, or Vox, also published on Breitbart or Drudge, even if fully accurate and factual (the ‘truth’ or ‘the whole news’). You are also unlikely to find some stories or details/facts carried on Fox News and televised on MSNBC even if accurate, all for the same reason. The echo-chamber must be maintained so the content producer continues to receive likes, ratings, ticket sales, seating capacity in an auditorium, or fulfilling an offering budget.

Additionally, some producers of content do not even care what message is being communicated in a given echo-chamber as long as it is successful at achieving likes. For example, most conservatives do not realize that the left-leaning Huffington Post was actually launched by no other than ultra-right anti-establishment Andrew Breitbart.

Content producers are motivated by “clicks.” To get a click they are pressured to give the audience what they want … which is not what the audience necessarily needs.

The electorate will never “get educated by the media” unless they are willing to also listen to different echo chambers of content – or find a source not motivated by self-survival (profits) or a social or political agenda.

So far I have not found one.

As volunteer or staff church-techs we may have limited ability to influence the content being offered to our congregations. But that is not to imply we have no influence.

Is your church involved in compassion and justice ministries but not proclaiming the path to eternal salvation? Or is your church all about evangelism but not serving the poor, the handicapped, prisoners, the unborn, widows and orphans? Does your church emphasize certain peripheral doctrinal positions without educating the congregation on why others may hold differing positions? These are but a few examples.

As church-techs do we focus only on live-sound mixing but shy away from video production, lighting, radio/podcast or TV/YouTube streaming production? As techs, do we live in our own self-imposed echo-chamber?

Earlier I offered the proposition that “the nature of most organizations, especially the media is to insure self-survival.” Echo-chamber mentality is the result of insulating ourselves from new thoughts and ideas. Organizations and individuals that do so will eventually entrench themselves in established policies, programs and procedures. Eventually paralysis sets in.

Are you open to disruptive thinking?

Can you be open to other echo-chambers without being disloyal to core principles?

What do you think?

Photo attribution Onilad