So a friend of mine who’s very politically savvy and knowledgeable (if very partisan, but we all have our flaws 😉 ) posted a link to a recently-signed Executive Order on her Facebook page (the content of the doc is irrelevant to this post, but you can – and I encourage you – to read it here). The first two comments she received were “TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) – can you provide a precis?” and “could you provide us a summary?”
With all due respect to her friends, I see this more and more in various places on Facebook and across the ‘net – people (largely Americans, with our fast-food, “I want it my way and right now” philosophy) wanting a situation summed up in a sound bite. And then they use that one little summation as the basis for publicly promoting or condemning the entire thing. And it’s not only the general public – it’s our elected representatives as well. They open their big mouths without fully understanding a story, situation or issue and without checking the facts on it (my amusing example here). People scream about the media manipulating the populace, and it’s true, the media does – but with the populace’s full consent, because they’re doing just what the people want: “TL;DR, can you sum up the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in 10 seconds for me?”
Sorry folks, if you want to really understand something, whether it’s a gov’t document or War and Peace, you have to read it. Actually read the thing. Cliff notes or a 15-second blurb on the news isn’t going to do it. And no, I don’t expect everyone to have to read everything – you have to skim and prioritize what you want to know, and then focus on what really matters to you, but if the only information I have on an issue that’s important to me is a two-sentence summary or 10-second sound bite, I generally withhold judgement until I can find out more, if I care enough to.
I’m waiting for someone to ask for a “summary” of the Constitution…