Charlie, I respect your thoughts here, and align with many of your takes. I am however exhausted with the ignorance of far too many of the citizens in this country and have little patience for a grifter like Joe Rogan. (for me, he will always be the guy that ate bugs on tv)

You wrote this on your explanation of why you were interested in the topics you cover.....

"All of my work is, ultimately, about attention and power: how people can commandeer once unthinkable amounts of attention and quickly translate it into staggering amounts of power,"

If that doesn't sum up Rogan, I don't know what does. Far too many in the media (across the ideological spectrum) are so drunk on the perception of their own influence it is damn near comical. Why the fuck do I, or anyone else, want to listen to a podcast from every fucking talking head on the planet? (excuse my language, but it is infuriating). The self perceived importance of these morons is nauseating, however the ignorance of the general public is almost (but not quite) equally vomit inducing. How did we get to a place where so many people are so confused about where to find honest information, show to critically evaluate that information and decide if it holds up to logical reasoning?

I am not sure if there is any way to stop this train. The desire to affirmation and ego gratification seems to know no bounds. I am so thankful none of this technology existed in my formative years. The ability to have "quiet" time and exist without interference from a constantly knocking visitor (FB, IG, Tik Tok, You Tube, ad infinitum) is a gift that is hard to quantify. The mental health and psychological strength of generations are being subjected to a firehose of information that they seem less than prepared for.

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Once upon a time, decades ago, there was a conversation about the "dumbing down" of American pop culture. I used to wonder, a lot, where it would lead, and while much has happened that I could never have predicted, the overall trend toward dumber is not surprising. No one talks about the great dumbing down anymore, which must mean it worked because we forget even that it was once a subject of literary debate. While I acknowledge mass comm is a complex subject involving the human condition, and it resists easy framing and singular explanations, I personally think there is a strong causal link between the (once) conscious dumbing down and where we find ourselves now.

On the positive side, a true story: A few months ago a friend was distressed because her son had fallen into an anti-vaxxer rabbit hole (Facebook, natch, in case anyone is collecting anecdotal evidence). I went back and found the article you wrote a year ago and gifted it to her, because I remembered it very well and at the time thought how useful that could be to someone who really needed that advice. Soon after, the son's wall of certitude began to crack, and shortly after that he got his vaccine, and thus got to keep his decently paying job.

Thought I would share this to say that although it may not feel like it sometimes, what you write can change a life.

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You’re doing the good lord’s work here, Charlie, don’t feel bad about it for a second. Even when people know or understand that the media ecosystem is sick and twisted, tainted by bullshit and rotten with quicksand, we can still get sucked in. The voice of reason needs many mouths, many days, and sometimes it even needs the eye-stab of a shouty-caps faux-clickbait title.

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A very good and thorough, if dismaying, breakdown.

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