I think a lot of people try to sound smart. There is a fear of being simple. I have it myself sometimes. There are moments when I use prose that perhaps may be rooted in embellishment as a means of aggrandized interaction, and potentially I extrapolate my usage of syntax in order to provide the illusion of an excessive capacity and propensity towards immense unyielding intelligence.
In academia and intellectual circles it is not only commended, but also expected for work to reflect an advanced level of education. I get that people of graduate level degrees want to experience information that reflects all the time, money and effort they have committed to their brains. The expectation to communicate this way undoubtedly shapes the conformity towards it, but there is a time and place for that type of mental exertion. It is fine and dandy to want to look clever in front of your clever friends, but when writing and talking about politics, world issues, the economy, the more people can truly understand what you are saying, the better.
The capacity to take a complex idea, and translate it into something that is easy to digest is a skill, and takes a lot of fiber. Bob Marley, Plato, Yogic philosophy, all make the effort for their message be universal. I understand that news sources feel pressure to cater to a specific audience, but at the same time how are more people going to be reached if the writing is too intimidating.
When informing people about world events it is not a time to flex your rhetoric. There is a difference between grandiloquence and discourse. Considering the average reading level of an American’s is at an 8th grade level, technically all pertinent information should cater to that. I know Fox news tries to seduce its demographic with flashy graphics and sensationalism, but that doesn’t mean people are getting a more in depth understanding of what’s happening. Part of why there is so much misinformation is because the most important news is often clouded by incapacity to explain it clearly.
I recently watched this show called VICE on HBO, which is done in a hipster-gonzo journalism style. I was immediately impressed with the show and their effort to create media that aims to clearly inform a younger audience about the issues. But I started reading articles where people were shitting on the show for being too simplistic – just a bunch of bros that aren’t delving into the intricacy of the subjects. I found myself outraged that people were so arrogantly critical of an attempt to use narrative and story to highlight problems everyone should be aware of. The snarky comments saying it is only news if you are totally uninformed were absurd in the context of wanting young people to be a part of the dialogue.
Even though I love Chomsky and want to dry hump his mind, how can we get his words into a forum that everyone can comprehend? That needs to be the real agenda. Only when people are inspired and impassioned to learn, will they challenge their minds to read and listen to more complex material. So why not do everything we can to get people in the door and get the process started?
(You know… just crawl in a bag and keep things simple)