I believe that a majority of my friends and associates
watched at least part of the game.
It seemed like everybody on Facebook.com that I know was commenting about
The Super Bowl was the
universal meme for a nation.
More than half of the country did not watch.
“Most people” did not watch the Super Bowl. The biggest, most unifying media
event of our age, and more people watched it than ever, but a majority of
Americans did not watch.
The most unifying American sports event of our age is a MEDIA
event. We in the media are about
presenting our perspective, our view, our marketing, our public relations. It is a world view from one point of
view. It is not all points of
As this nation is wrestling with another presidential
election season, the journalism, advertising, punditry and commentary can be
exhausting to keep up with. With
so much media and information available, the volume of it whizzing past is
So, those of us in media try to give a shorthand
version. When we say, “most people
want lower taxes,” or “most people want birth control to be free,” we are
sometimes paraphrasing specific outcomes of surveys. This isn’t a result of
democracy or statements of truth.
It is a projection of a point of view to give a quick and easy answer.
This approach to information is convenient. It is also reckless and unfair to the facts.
One of the biggest problems with “most people” (the phrase,
not the people) is that even if it is NOT inflating the power or viewpoint of
the “most” group, it is often disregarding the “other” people not in the
There are people who are older than you or younger than you
who have none of your shared cultural references. There are people of different gender with a totally
different view. Race, ethnic
background, religion (and please, that is a very broad palate) or non-theism,
education, physical ability…the list of our differences is long.
When you recognize America as a complex collection of
diverse people, hopes, experiences, abilities and accomplishments, the folly of
using the phrase “most people” can begin to sink in. The beauty of our representational democracy is that
we can find a way for most people to
live together with opportunity and responsibilities that we agree to as a part
of our compact with each other as Americans.
Beyond a few certitudes, in journalism, in life, in art, we
are trying to discern what matters.
Most people breath.
Most people eat.
Having more than half of a population care about something. Most
people eligible to vote in the presidential election of 2008 DID vote (62%)