Don’t confuse attention-grabbing agendas with truth

I’ve got this theory that there is more to this One Percent thing than just a bunch of Wall Street fat cats running the world.

What if our impressions of the world we are living in are shaped through a convenient partnership between aggressive activists on the fringes of society and a compliant mainstream media that has an insatiable appetite for dramatic controversy presented as “shock” entertainment rather than real news?

This seemed to be confirmed by the release of BC Hydro information this week that showed 99 per cent of its residential customers have signed up for Smart Meters.

Just six months ago the furor in the news media over Smart Meters being imposed on customers seemed to rival the outrage over the province’s ill-fated HST.

In the end we were talking about just 1% of Hydro’s customers digging in and refusing to have the meters.

Across the water in Vancouver we have public transportation policy being set to meet the requirements of arguably less than 1% of the population who want to ride their bicycles to work.

Even in rush hour there are sometimes more smart cars in the bike lanes than people on bikes. But, to read the media there is a broad-based popular upswelling of sentiment to support bike lanes.

Then there are the gambling proposals in Vancouver.  Again, one could conclude from media coverage that the population at large is prepared to lie down in front of bulldozers to stop gambling expansion when there is simply a fringe activist group opposed to gambling that supplies fodder for the media’s demand for eye-catching stories.

Could it also be true that the apparent broad opposition to new pipelines is fueled by extremely aggressive and skilled fringe activists who have successfully manipulated our journalistic establishment?

It seems strange that our environmentally-oriented progressives, who have traditionally been more than a little anti-American, go gladly cap-in-hand for monetary support and direction to Yankee organizations funded by American billionaires who want to keep access to cheap Canadian oil.

Even our own Peter Nix and his merry band of doomsayers get moral support from these American eco-imperialists.

If you really think about it, most people don’t directly know what’s going on in their neighbourhoods a few blocks away, let alone what’s going on in Victoria, Ottawa, Washington or Edmonton. They rely on various news media to inform themselves on what is going on in the world.

Then, of course, we’ve got social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, where people can find links lifted from mainstream news sites.

Is it any wonder that people fret and oppose things after having been force-fed doom, gloom and constant controversy by media outlets anxious to build and hold audience in a competitive market?

If there is no drama, who is going to pay attention? And that is the only information the average person has in order to make sense of the world around them.

So, the world is not going to hell in a hand basket – it’s just 1%, or less, wanting you to think so.

Patrick Hrushowy is a Cowichan writer and political consultant. Email him at phrushowy@shaw.ca

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