HAMPTON, Virginia — US President Barack Obama lamented Sunday that in the iPad and Xbox era, information had become a diversion that was imposing new strains on democracy, in his latest critique of modern media.
Obama, who often chides journalists and cable news outlets for obsessing with political horse race coverage rather than serious issues, told a class of graduating university students that education was the key to progress. "You're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank all that high on the truth meter," Obama said at Hampton University, Virginia.
"With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," Obama said.
He bemoaned the fact that "some of the craziest claims can quickly claim traction," in the clamor of certain blogs and talk radio outlets.
"All of this is not only putting new pressures on you, it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy."
Obama, who uses the handful of Commencement addresses that he delivers each year to meditate on societal developments broader than the minutiae of everyday politics, warned the world was at a moment of "breathtaking change."
"We can't stop these changes... but we can adapt to them," Obama said, adding that US workers were in a battle with well-educated foreign workers...The US populace is in a battle to prevent the Obama government from controlling the flow of info, more like. (We've got a battle on our hands in Canada, too, but those inclined to speak freely do so despite the state filters and censors.)
As Thomas L. Friedman never fails to point out, the government of China has such a tremendous "advantage" over the US in that it's so much easier for it to control things (and people, and ideas, and expression).