I had an epiphany the other day.

At any given time on my hard drive I have 400 mb of MP3s. And, in the same thought, I had only begun collecting in 1999. And, yet, I had know about MP3s for 5 years, when my friend's brother indroduced me to the wonders with "Closer," by Nine Inch Nails.

And I thought about why there was such a gap in between the meeting and the actual event of downloading. The only reason I went out and tried to download these things was because I saw a special on MTV. College students had tons of these thing, thousands of them, and they weren't exactly popular songs, but one's they wanted to hear, or the songs they couldn't find in record stores.

What I'm getting at here is that I would have taken me years of internet searching to find what an MP3 was. And I'm not the only one. TV enlightened me to a much better way of doing things, just as it did to millions of others in America.

So, would Napster be where it is if American TV content was less sensational and more content based? Would there have been copy-cat crimes after Columbine, or a Columbine at all, if American TV, radio and printed media was less about making money than it was about real, true content? We all saw the pictures - the kid falling out the window, the students runing in a half-crouch to escape any potential gunfire - but was that as necessary as telling us what really happened?

Then, as this thought process folded out before me, I remembered something I saw on the History Channel. During World War II, nobody in America knew about the atrocities being commited by the Nazis, save the few that dug through their paper every day.

Is our preception of the world so limitied to whats on TV? Today, according to what TV news reports, America is drug ridden, violent, and falling appart.

But is it really?

American life, or life in any other country, at any time, is what is lived by the people living it, as truism-sounding as that sounds.

And that life now, for better or for worse, includes media--which includes, for some, the internet. It is not as simple as the media has it right or wrong; the task is as it has always been--to make sense of one's own experience.

The proliferation of media certainly puts a strain upon our reason and our imagination; most of us most of the time are overwhelmed, and even the rest must sometimes take a break.

We must confront the images presented to us with an understanding of the reasons they are presented to us--the bias and purpose of the purveyor. Hard? You bet it is hard! But this is the task our teachers and our schools must prepare us for.

God, or whatever, help us if we fail!

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