It’s safe to say that most people in America have either heard about or watched the first presidential debate in Denver last night. I would like to reflect, though, on the way we are watching it.
Way, way back when, you used to have to show up and actually watch candidates debate (think Lincoln-Douglas). Then it was radio, then TV. I remember listening to the Bush-Gore debates on the radio with my parents. That was just twelve years ago but you might not know it if you watched the debate the way I did.
I streamed the debate live via Youtube with live blogs pouring second to second commentary down the side of my screen while my phone buzzed with incoming tweets hash-marked for the debate (indeed the kids and their twitter made last nights performance the most tweeted political event in history with 10.3 million tweets). Forbes has a post outlining just how much digital media has changed the debates. And increasingly people are finding debates are better as drinking games than as exchanges of ideas.
My multitasking skills are remedial, at best, when compared with those of my generation. I am just not skilled enough to follow an argument, read a tweet and/or blog post, and take a shot all at the same time. For a while I got nothing but static. It wasn’t until I shut out everything else that I could focus and enjoy the debate.
One of Dr. Bill Thomas’ posts came to mind, “Slow Down You Move Too Fast”. This obsession with speed and up-to-the-minute analysis has reminded me that “sometimes fast is not always best.”