Archive for March, 2008
I’ve been neglecting the other blog I set up for my son-to-be. Just absorottenlutely neglecting it. We’ve been given all kinds of incredible things – clothes, goodies from the two baby showers that have been thrown for us so far (including some really big ticket items), furniture, etc. – and I haven’t yet gotten around to posting pictures of all our great booty. For that failure I’ve been harassed by my dad, Lynn’s family, and now the Nicole. No introduction or discussion of the Nicole is necessary… she’s just… well, the Nicole. She’s a wonderful person and all that, but convicted enough about what I should be doing with the babyblawg to make me want to correct my deficiencies to date… and as soon as possible.
Anyway, so yeah, Lynn and I have literally been showered with affection and gifts and whatnot ever since I got her “into trouble” last summer, and from people who mean more to us than I could possibly express, wannabe-writer and all. We’ve gotten tons of really thoughtful and well-selected purchases and handicrafts (some of which look like they came from one of them there Bevery Hills stores), and I’ve just been overwhelmed by all of it.
I think I’ve mentioned before (or maybe I just thought it real loudlike) that the reality of my impending fatherhood has been developing in stages: the ultrasound images; the changes in Lynn’s worklife and in our home; my grandpa Israel speaking the baby’s name for the first time. Tonight, finally, after we had gotten home from the shower Lynn’s office threw for us, the reality became complete for me. It was both wonderful and devastating, and I bawled my eyes out. What happened? Our wonderful friend Addy made Little Carter a teddy bear named Teddy (who is a lot more brown than he looks in my crappy photo):
And before you tell me Teddy’s ugly, have a look at his role model:
For those of you who don’t know it, that’s Rowan Atkinson (as Mr. Bean) with Bean’s best friend, Teddy. It’s a pretty good likeness, I think, and is the perfect custom-made accessory for the culturally literate child that Little Carter is sure to be. It’s also an item that I will probably be stealing from my young one on a regular basis.
It’s not the sentiment of Addy’s gesture that shook me up, or even the time spent researching and hand-crafting the perfect gift for us, but rather the function Teddy will fulfill: Little Carter’s first, best and probably favorite companion.
I’m a big old manly man, but I’ll admit to a soft spot in my heart for teddy bears. My mom was supposed to be here to celebrate her first grandchild’s birth with us, but God was ready for her before He blessed us with our little fellow. She used to make teddy bears of all varieties and, whenever I think of my childhood, I remember great happiness for both of us as she would unveil a new teddy. Some wore overalls, some wore other kinds of little outfits and some were even colored up in very un-bearlike ways, but every single one of them meant the same thing to me: I was a little boy and I had a happy life in a happy home.
I guess I always figured that when it was time for me to raise my own child, there would be a teddy bear involved. It’s silly, I know, but now that I have Teddy, I know I’m going to be a father.
The media, when viewed simply as message gatekeepers, have no inherent qualities that can be judged good or bad; in a perfect world, they would be nearly transparent. But they aren’t, in actuality, freestanding machines that passively deliver content to consumers because they themselves are driven by passionate, emotive human beings. Today the same individuals that deliver news—factually or otherwise—often take on multiple roles: especially across Internet channels, the gatekeepers of information can also be the creators of it.
The media have an incredible responsibility to deliver material on time and in an engaging manner, but is the content always presented fairly? The idea that information can be disseminated in an absolutely impartial and unbiased way is laughable to many, but it’s a worthy notion even if it’s held aloft by imperfect people. The tagline of FOX News is “Fair & Balanced,” but many people, conservative or otherwise, would argue that the coverage is anything but. At the same time, however, the relatively new cable channel created a market that appeals to a large segment of viewers who claim that other sources—such as CNN—deliver news with no less (but politically different) spin. In this case, it’s the human element rather than the mechanism itself that imbues the media with the ability to distort. It can certainly be a negative quality when flawed people seek to subtly change the meaning of the message, but is it really an inherent quality?
A certain power lies with the ability to broadcast content as fact, and in the simplistic view of the media as sluice gates through which information is channeled downstream to consumers, that power is a natural force that cannot be abused. Again, however, the real world is filled with real people who sometimes do make mistakes. The drama surrounding CBS News’ loss of Mary Mapes and Dan Rather in separate episodes a while back raised both suspicion of and sympathy for the players involved, as well as the question of whether the media are always capable of delivering the truth. It’s helpful to remember, however, that content providers such as CBS News are largely self-regulating; credibility is key to the mission of every good news agency. While profitability is often of secondary importance, it’s still a critical piece of the package, and one that demands that same credibility from serious news sources. The same doesn’t necessarily apply to non-professional channels such as those used by bloggers on the World Wide Web; as individuals who have the right to speak their minds about any topic (researched or not), they are free to publish sentiments that may or may not fairly represent the truth. In most cases, however, the opinions of amateur bloggers are accepted for what they are: merely opinions. The media are self-balancing in such a way that public sentiment, as expressed through new channels of communication, is kept separate from the commentaries and news reports of professional agencies. In neither case should faulty information automatically be considered a blight on the media; the mechanism by which content can be shared with the world is by its very nature a flexible one, and it’s only through the power of human drive and ingenuity that it can become a positive or negative force.
In short, the media are what we make of them.
And also, I can write whatever I want here.
*used without permission from my good friend Michael.
EDIT: Michael gave me permission after the fact. Not so much fun that way, I think.