What do Miley Cyrus, Males Exposing Themselves in Public and Syria Have in Common?

Image via HBO's "The Newsroom"

Image via HBO’s “The Newsroom”

On any given week there are any number of popular headlines that will circulate around major media sites and the blogosphere.  Most vanish into oblivion while a handful seem to be featured on nearly every sort of media site imaginable.

This week’s big news seems to be:

  1. Miley Cyrus and what she did
  2. Miley Cyrus and how she did it
  3. Miley Cyrus on how she isn’t “Hannah Montana” anymore
  4. Miley Cyrus and the deeper meaning behind her behavior
  5. Miley Cyrus in a timeline of photos from child to adult
  6. Miley Cyrus isn’t 14 anymore
  7. Miley Cyrus and what her future holds
  8. Billy Ray Cyrus and what might be going through his mind
  9. Males exposing themselves in public
  10. Random videos of Miley Cyrus
  11. More random videos of Miley Cyrus
  12. Signs that you might be prone to seeing a man expose himself in public
  13. Signs that you might be prone to seeing a man expose himself in public, outside of a gun factory which George Zimmerman visited just days before he watched Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMA’s
  14. Devastating Fires in Yosemite —eh
  15. …oh yeah, there might have been a chemical weapon attack in Syria and the United States might be getting involved.

So what do all these have in common?  Well, not much actually.  Except the fact that if you added Miley Cyrus or “man exposes himself in public” just before Syria or Yosemite fires — then it seems more Americans might care.

You know, the “important” stories of the day.

I bet if I did a poll right now, most Americans would have no idea that there have been devastating fires tearing through Yosemite or chemical weapons were probably used in Syria — but they damn sure know Miley Cyrus made a fool of herself on national television.

Most Americans probably have no idea that:

  • Over 1,300 people were killed by a possible chemical attack in Syria.
  • The United States is debating whether or not to aid the rebels.
  • We aren’t the only nation debating this; other prominent European countries are contemplating taking action as well.
  • The use of chemical weapons does change things.
  • The Syrian civil war has been going on for 2 1/2 years and over 150,000 people have died as a result.

Most Americans also probably don’t know that:

  • The fire in Yosemite has been burning since August 17.
  • It’s the largest fire in Sierra’s history, engulfing 282 square miles.
  • Over 100 buildings have been destroyed with 4,500 threatened.
  • It’s the seventh largest fire in California since they started keeping record in 1932.

And I feel I can safely assume this because when I go to Facebook pages, or look at the activity on most Syria or Yosemite articles online, I see horrific activity.

Just recently I went to the Huffington Post’s Facebook page to see what stories have the most “Likes” and “Shares.”  Well, a couple of stories on Syria had less than 100 “Likes” and less than 30 “Shares.”  Oh, but articles on Miley Cyrus?  Thousands of “Likes” and hundreds of “Shares.”

In fact, almost every legit news story on their Facebook page had terrible activity (unless the headline was absurd) while their “trash stories” (like random males exposing themselves in public locations) people seemingly couldn’t get enough of.

So why am I pointing this out?  Because this is a damn big problem.  Media outlets are going to give us what we want to read, and when people seem to not give a crap about real stories such as Syria and the possible U.S. involvement, while talking endlessly about Miley Cyrus and her ridiculous behavior — what do you think they’re going to spend more time and resources on?

But I’ve seen how this story goes.  People will care about Syria — when it’s too late.  After the troops have been sent off, the missiles fired and the bombs dropped (you know, when it’s “exciting”), then they’ll care.

Now I’m not saying people don’t have the right to click these trash stories; we all succumb to guilty pleasures now and again, but it’s the response that’s the problem.

It’s people reading the countless stories about Miley Cyrus or males exposing themselves in public (of course, these are just two examples out of many) and feeling the need to share those by the thousands.  Yet when they read a well-written article about the atrocities in Syria or the wildfires in Yosemite, only a handful of those who read it felt the need to “share” that information.  They were far more interested in what some freak did on television or what some pervert did on the subway in New York City than they were anything else.

But until more people start taking the time to read and share those stories which matter, our news is going to continue on a cycle of devolution into an endless conveyor belt of trash.  And trust me, I’m not the only one who feels this way — more and more people see it happening every day.

We can fix this.  We’re the ones who choose what we’ll watch, read or click.

But the question is, will we?  What story will we demand these news agencies give us?  Quality or trash?

Because at the end of the day, we determine what’s “important news.”  And if recent history is any indication, most Americans seem to think Miley Cyrus and perverts exposing themselves in public are more important than chemical weapon attacks and historic wildfires.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • Pipercat

    dec·a·dence
    ˈdekədəns
    noun
    noun: decadence
    1.
    moral or cultural decline as characterized by excessive indulgence in pleasure or luxury.

    Pretty much sums it all up!

  • Mainah

    This is really sad. For I knew all about Syria, have been following it closely. The wild fire threatening the Sequoia’s … the debt ceiling crap we are about to have to put up with once again …. but the Miley Cyrus thing I would not have heard about if it hadn’t made national news. Sad.

  • Gerardo Lagunes

    I really want to watch news in the morning, I have 15 minutes while I get ready for work, Watch CNN< What do I get? Zimmerman went to a date, wife is in trouble, that Jody arias from AZ is learning languages, Local channels had something about a wig… I had to turn off the TV, and dress in silence. CAN WE SUE THEM FOR MISSINFORMATION?

    • YouKnowMe

      You DO have a choice, you know. You can make a deliberate decision to get your news by reading it, either by choosing a good publication, or a good website like Talking Points Memo or the BBC.

      I don’t watch any television news–I don’t own a TV. It is 100% crap, and I can get better, more thorough information from the internet. I fail to understand why anyone thinks they need a television to get news. Convenience doesn’t cut it.

  • Mike McDonald

    HHmmmm, attention whores distracting us while the MICs next plan for profit, at everyone’s expense begins?

  • YouKnowMe

    I occasionally get whiny comments on my FB page, stuff like, “Why do you always post all this negative stuff?” It’s not true, I post lots of humor and beauty and good-news stories. But people WANT to live in a bubble. “I just look to be happy in my own place, I don’t worry about The World.” They believe this is the best way to be. Miley Cyrus fits into that bubble just fine–her world works the way they think the world should always work. The world of Syria, sinkholes, Fukushima and lethal GMOs doesn’t fit and must be held at bay as long as possible, hopefully for their entire lives.

  • YouKnowMe

    It’s that people feel they can’t DO anything useful or effective about Syria or the California fire. And they don’t HAVE to take any action around Miley Cyrus–which makes it perfectly okay to sit around and be outraged. It’s as ephemeral as football, and you can put as much or as little attention on it as you choose. That makes people feel like they have some agency.

  • suburbancuurmudgeon

    Real journalism died when Walter Cronkite retired and news departments became cost centers.

  • Mike Williams

    Well said Mr. Clifton.

    To be honest, I only read the article because I wanted to see how you tied Syria into Miley Cyrus….Both are horrible terrible things, but only Syria matters.

  • Line

    I’m not sure we don’t pay attention to Syria because we don’t care and to Cyrus because we do. The media hypes these stories and blasts the ones they think will create the most frenzy. The media created this nation of cravers of “other people’s stupid behaviour so I can feel better about my own”.

  • Idon’tCareBear

    as far as I’m concerned, we should treat the syria issue as being as unimportant as we as a nation perceive it, no war, no bullshit, no sending bombs to murder enemy and innocent alike, just fucking give up on pointless warmongering, it’s not in the top ten because no one cares or wants to deal with it.