Never before has there been so much up-to-the-minute news coverage of a war. Nightly we follow the ever-advancing American and British troops as they surround and descend into Baghdad.
Whether one gets coverage of the war through television, print, internet, or radio, the sentiment is the same: war is a spectators sport.
Depending on ones chosen media outlet, you may see more Iraqis cheering troops or civilians caught in the crossfire, but burned into all of our brains are the images of battle. However, just as disturbing as the war itself is the way that we are inundated with its sights and sounds all brought to us by the marvels of technology.
Alongside the actual movement of troops, reporters suit up with compact kits containing digital cameras, laptop computers and satellite phones to capture the fighting. Yet, with an emphasis on gadgetry, any sense of the war’s purpose gets lost in what is hailed as revolutionary in technological advancement.
The result is an ongoing advertisement for the technology industry and an overzealous emphasis on how the information is brought to us rather than what the information contains. Live-streamed action also has another consequence: the war begins to look like an ongoing game, ironically similar to video games, as it records casualties, wrecked planes and ambushed surrenderers.
The effect all this information has is simply a sensory overload, seemingly without end or boundary. It is barren of an essential humane element. We impotently stand on the sidelines watching, listening and seeing, but perhaps, not thinking. The media and the war may affect our schedules, our conversations, our thoughts, but it cannot bring us insight or wisdom. Abundance does not replace accuracy. By placing emphasis on raw data transmitted through these new tools, we neglect to think of those benefiting from our curiosity.
The recipients of our demand are too closely connected to the entertainment industry-be it broadband and high-speed internet access, cable or other media giants. Industry, regardless of economic hardship, should not benefit from our right to be informed. That is, unless, Hewlett Packard has ideas and donations to offer in the rebuilding of Iraq.