This report at the BBC used the term 'digital ghetto' to refer to the practice by people in the UK's Muslim & Asian communities of using satellites to get channels from 'back home'-- Pakistani television, Al Jazeera, and the like-- and how doing so has put them in a position of not being immersed in the British culture all around them. Instead, they remain tied to the culture back home.
This idea of isolation through choosing one's media seems ironic in an age where such a variety of media is now accessible to so many. In seconds, I can have the news from sources around the country and the globe, from my local newspapers (and by local, I mean local: the Malden Observer) to the BBC to the Hindustan Times to The Examiner ("The Leading online news source for North-East Tasmania").That's right- Tasmania. A guy outside of Boston can get the latest news for Tasmania in about a second and a half. (Hi, Dad!)
This got me to thinking about the USA, and whether we're now in a position of having the same problem as the BBC story describes, but from the perspective of affluence: digital gated communities. By which I mean the ability of a group of people of a like mind to envelope themselves in news and entertainment that is delivered with a bias toward a given political or religious perspective. Cases in point: Fox News Channel and Air America Radio. (OK, so Air America isn't a 'news channel' in the same way that Fox News is, but it doesn't change the basic point.)
Consider that thirty years ago, most Americans got their news and entertainment from the three major networks. As cable and the internet has proliferated, however, more and more people can watch only that which they feel fits their worldview. There is no broad coverage anymore. The conservatives can watch Fox, the liberals can listen to Air America, the fundamentalist Christians have their own media empire.
(Case in point on the Christian media empire: the Left Behind books, movies, kids books, audio books, video game, calendars, and coffee mugs. Okay, I made that last one up, but really how long do you think it's going to be before there's a Left Behind coffee mug? There's a Star Trek mug that has Spock, Kirk & McCoy "transport" when you pour hot liquid into it-- the Left Behind mug will be the same except that when you pour the liquid in, the people who've been taken during the Rapture will disappear. And they won't come back when you finish your coffee.)
So what comes of us when we're balkanized within our own country? What happens when there's no more mainstream to be part of, because we're all busy hearing only what we are comfortable with hearing?