The Debate Died Early

The Obama/Romney debate was unimpressive (big looser?  Jim Lehrer).  From what I hear about the Stewart/O’Reilly debate it was livlier but uninsipriing.  Everyone’s already talking Twitter, Facebook, and how that impacts the debates.  Big Bird is a meme, the Stewart/O’Reilly debate’s technical glitches are being discussed, and the debates kind of fade away.

I miss the idea of good, substantial debate.  Catchphrases, bumper stickers, and blatant lies aren’t exactly the substance of great historical import.  Neither is statistics diddling or mathematical games.

So I began speculating that perhaps the internet is replacing debates.  There you can post length discussions and link to numbers.  There the dialog is ongoing.  There things happen.

My answer to this is, possibly, yes.  But I don’t think the internet killed the debate.

I think that it died a lot earlier in our media.

Everything is turned into media sound bites, spectacle, and sensationalism, and our supposed politics and policies aren’t much different.  It’s an age of sensationalism and catchphrases, of what makes audiences angry over any kind of discussion, of what sells ad time.  Politics is entertainment – it’s always been, but it’s pretty much merged as far as I’m concerned, accelerated by television, media empires, and 24-hour news cycles people have to fill.

Worse, it’s a mix of advertising and reality television.

To put the final capper on it, it’s been entertainment long enough for people to imitate it.  You’ve heard the catchphrases bubble up in people’s political discussions.  You know the people who ape their favorite media-news pundits.  This reality-TV politics has infected us.

So debates are dead.  We just started killing them early – and I think the internet is replacing the gap.

Even if that gap sometime is using LOLCats as template for political discussions.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at