Where did all the thinkers go?

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By Meaghan Downs

I was complaining about technology. Again.
This was not a new conversation. It’s one I repeat time and time again, with friends, family, random people in line at the grocery store, and most recently, my cousin, a self-professed technofile.
“This is the best time to be living in,” he told me, as my SUV purred along the highway and he pored over the glow of his smart phone.
For him, technology is exciting, revolutionary. An evolution of industries building toward a brighter, better future.
In my mind, technology equals anxiety.  
I’m trapped in an invisible, endless loop of information.
I’m chained down by chargers, cables and the slow beeps of my dying smart phone.
Every device, every portal demands a new look to see what came over the wire in the last 30 seconds.
We can know all through the touch of a button, but we can only understand information from a distance. We only take the time to process the highlights, as opposed to digging deep.
And it’s come to the point in which it no longer matters where we’ve gotten information, as long as it is available whenever we require it.
Is it even important anymore to understand how we receive information anymore?
Recently, the popular podcast and public radio show “This American Life” reported that Journatic, a company that produces “hyperlocal” news for national and regional newspapers and websites, had been outsourcing its news to the Philippines.
That’s right. Writers who lived a world away reporting on the state of real estate and community education news of Chicago suburbs, places they had never even seen before.  
To put it into perspective for Anderson News readers, imagine someone trying to report about the Burgoo Festival while living and working in the Sahara Desert.
Of course, the news of Journatic’s practices shocked many in the world of journalism.  
Which is typical, because this kind of business practice would not shock anyone else.
It’s no secret that it’s becoming less important to understand how things come to be.
Take the ruling on Obamacare. News outlets rushed to report whether the individual mandate was overturned or upheld.
In their haste to utilize to-the-second technology, some news outlets — notably CNN and Fox News — got it completely wrong.
The cynical side of myself says this is indicative of the way news is done now — publish first, correct later. Not that I agree with that philosophy; I reject it wholeheartedly.
But I think there’s more to it. As a society, we no longer care about the person behind the byline, the face behind the blog, the thinking behind important legislative action.
We want information, in the palm of our hands. And we want it now, regardless of inaccuracies.
It’s not my intention to use this column as a soapbox proposing we all live as hermits. Lord knows how I would survive without a microwave.
But I’d like to believe that the age of critical thinking hasn’t passed us by, that we can arrive at conclusions about important issues without ignoring the process completely.
Only it’s getting harder and harder to believe.   

In other news, I was happy to hear council member Bobby Durr address the city’s lack of a proper fireworks ordinance at Monday night’s council meeting.
It’s easy to be nonchalant about fireworks, but I do think the city has been remiss in establishing limitations to when fireworks can be sold and how long they can be used in Lawrenceburg.
Sure, residents who complain about fireworks abuse can hope for a nuisance citation to be issued.
But with last year’s change to allow more powerful consumer fireworks to be sold in Kentucky, it’s necessary (and has been necessary for a while) to construct parameters for fireworks for the safety of city dwellers.