Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rapid Pace of Change

You couldn’t necessarily tell that the world is in the middle of an epic series of disasters by watching the news. But if the news seems to be tuning out most of the more serious developments in the world, it is not an accident. The news media follows its viewers, and most viewers are ill-prepared to face the rapid pace of change that the current situation represents.

This is why the flood coverage is about color rather than substance, focusing on Graceland, which has remained above water, more than a nearby interstate highway that was closed for days because of high waters. It also explains why there has been an initial reaction of denial as flooding arrived in Louisiana and Manitoba.

It is up to those of us who are paying attention to navigate a way through the maze of unexpected events. For example, if the situation is just slightly worse than the experts are telling us, we could wake up Monday morning to an insolvent U.S. government, a flooded New Orleans, and major corporations disabled by a PowerPoint worm. If it is not that combination of events on that day, it will be another combination of events on another day. Most of the news audience would simply be shocked, which is the same kind of helplessness that has them avoiding the guts of the recent news. The relatively few who are able to assess and respond will make the biggest difference.