The Internet

Real Estate Agent with Berkshire Hathaway

There are a lot of good things that have come out of the way the internet has developed, but I see one rather negative one which I don't see discussed:

Internet Truth #1:  The internet makes too much information available too easily to too many people without sufficient background or knowledge to properly assimilate it.  The internet has created self-styled experts in any subject you can think of largely because of the ease with which anything can be "Googled".  Someone said recently that "the biggest problem we have in this country is ignorance" and, while that is probably true, and counter-intuitively, that ignorance is exacerbated by the internet.  It used to be that acquiring knowledge in a given subject required at the very least the reading of a book or, better yet, years of study.  Then there was the filter of finding someone willing to publish whatever it was you had to say.  Say what you will, this at least had the advantage of limiting mass exposure to those who were reasonably serious about a subject.  Any more, anyone can just wake up and, without the least notion of what they're talking about other than their reaction to some current news story, send the product of their tiny bit of knowledge around the world.  I suppose at some point consumers will develop their own filter to deal with this, but they haven't yet, and recipients similarly bereft of knowledge may be swayed by it because, as Plato said, they don't know enough to know what they don't know.

I will admit that I make these observations from a limited knowledge base myself (military history, music, and real estate), and that my distress stems from an extrapolation to all subjects of the misinformation out there on these.  I have a couple of examples, but here's one:

The Stimulus Package, Bailout Bill, etc:  The US is a representative democracy wherein representatives of the people are elected by them to become knowledgeable on the issues to a level impractical by the average guy, and vote the interests of their constituents by proxy.  The internet has interfered with this process due to Internet Truth #1 above.  The constituents get a little information about the Bailout Bill, don't like what they see, get their panties in a bunch, and bombard their representatives with demands that they vote against it.  I'm no economist, but the media's characterization of the original "Wall Street bailout bill", combined with Internet Truth #1, did the country a huge disservice:  the average guy wasn't about to bail out them "Wall Street Fatcats", an infintessimally small number of whom had besmirched the image of all (courtesy of the ratings-driven news business) for having done nefarious things, which did not include a big part in creating the current mess.  As a result, Congress was bombarded with angry e-mails demanding that they vote against it.  The unfortunate part is that the vast majority of the authors had no idea what they were asking their congressman to vote against, and the latter, apparently not realizing that the e-mails were based upon a misunderstanding, duly voted against it, thus insuring the current slide into deep recession.

The War in Iraq is another good example, but it has little to do with real estate, unless you plan to pick up that riverfront property in Baghdad cheap.



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Dana Graham

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