I must begin here with a confession: I am a “gen-X’r.”
I say this with some hesitation, because I don’t fit the “slacker” stereotype of my generation (my depression-era parents raised me better than that). But I’ve certainly never been able to “relate to“ or “identify with” the mindset and the attitudes of the boomers, either, so I accept the fact that I’m on the front-end of the “gen-X” timeline and try to make the best of it.
And given the nuanced preferences and habits that mark each generation of Americans (my own included), I’m left wondering about an important question: for whom is the CNN-YouTube debate format appealing?
Seriously, who really likes this approach to presidential candidate “debates,” and why? I can’t imagine that anyone in my demographic would find it to be particularly enlightening or worthwhile, and my generation came of age in the era of Bill Gates and ever-emerging computer technology. Likewise, I don’t imagine that those in generations ahead of mine are particularly “into it” either. So is this a 20-something phenomena, or something intended to engage teenagers? What?
Ostensibly, the connection between CNN and YouTube is a media-created phenomena, intended to emulate a “convergence” of competing media formats - - the old-fashioned, uni-directional cable television news outlet joins forces with the new, hip, interactive web-based entity. Perhaps this little “experiment” has demonstrated in a new way that old and new media formats can collaborate, and thereby increase consumption for each other, rather than compete against one another and cannibalize each other.
But in terms of political discourse, I think we’ve reached a new low point.
I may be way out of step with my “generation,” but I find it embarrassing to realize that the future President of the United States - - and, therefore, the future leader of the world - - could be subjected to questions that are “asked” by a cartoon character, or a pretend snowman, or a pouty-looking college student who introduces himself by saying “..I’m nineteen, and my vote does matter…”
Some have argued that YouTube has enabled “everyday people” to speak candidly and directly to the candidates, in a way that they likely would not be able to otherwise. But I question this logic on two fronts.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.