We Need To Stop Being A Sound Bite Culture
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

We Need To Stop Being A Sound Bite Culture

8 seconds is not enough information

We Need To Stop Being A Sound Bite Culture

We have all heard it. That 15 seconds of someone's speech that will be a point of interest for any discussion. We live in a world inundated with information, most of it cut down to the few seconds of the juicy part. We only want to listen to the part of the story that interests us; all of the rest is just white noise we don't want to hear. We are a culture that likes the bite-sized pieces of information that are easy to swallow.

I say "we" because I did not realize this for the longest time. It wasn't until my senior year of high school that my government teacher introduced my class to the concept of sound bites and changed my entire view of not only the news, but of social media as well.

As our nation gets more and more political and more "news" is needed to be reported on in shorter amounts of time, sound bites have become the name of the game. They have also caught up to our shortened attention spans, on average spanning eight seconds. Compare that to when our parents were children in 1968, where sound bites were about 43 seconds. In the 1990s, CBS would not air a sound bite that lasted less than 30 seconds in an effort to encourage more informative discourse. In 20 years, it has been cut into almost a quarter of that amount.

We have become increasingly reliant on these sound bites to fuel our discussions without giving any heed to their context, or what came before or after them. The most recent example of this would be Melania Trump's speech from the 2016 Republican National Convention. Not long after her speech, a video popped up comparing her speech to Michelle Obama's speech from the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Calls of plagiarism erupted over the internet. Never mind the fact that the "plagiarized" lines were mostly cliche and could probably be heard in any political speech. The video lasted a little over a minute, but the way it was put, made it sound like Melania's writer hit copy and paste then made a few edits like a college student writing a last minute essay. Watching the whole video of each speech would definitely show a different story. For anyone who watched, it became one of the many points of contention about Trump's campaign and the Republican Party that really should not have been anything controversial at all.

Sound bites have not only invaded the media on television, but social media as well. "News" can spread like wildfire thanks to 30-second, shaky cell phone footage. People are all too eager to wipe out their smartphones and start taping something when they see it happening, but don't have it out before any escalation. The most obvious example of these are videos of police brutality. It is a terrible thing to see and we can be all to quick to judge someone based on these videos, but they did not capture what led up to the shooting, tasering, etc.

Instead of waiting for all of the facts to slowly come out, we grab onto the meager evidence that has been made available to us. There could be a lot more information than a short video can give us. As much as we try to espouse "innocent until proven guilty," we prefer swift justice, often with little information. More often than not, eye witness accounts and other information made available later refute the narrative set-up by the sound bite and media that uses them. We are destroying people's lives even more by simply not doing our research and being patient.

The lives of politicians, actors and actresses, servicemen and women and everyday people are being put at risk by our sound bite obsession. When you see the net controversial sound bite, take a step back. Look at what information is given and what is missing from those eight seconds. Then, go and do some research to see if the sound bite matches up to the story. Quit using eight seconds to justify an argument that may not even really exist. We need to revolt against this sound bite culture and learn to educate ourselves if the media won't show us the full story. So before you start the next flame war, maybe open up Google and do a little searching first.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

college students waiting in a long line in the hallway

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less
a man and a woman sitting on the beach in front of the sunset

Whether you met your new love interest online, through mutual friends, or another way entirely, you'll definitely want to know what you're getting into. I mean, really, what's the point in entering a relationship with someone if you don't know whether or not you're compatible on a very basic level?

Consider these 21 questions to ask in the talking stage when getting to know that new guy or girl you just started talking to:

Keep Reading...Show less

Challah vs. Easter Bread: A Delicious Dilemma

Is there really such a difference in Challah bread or Easter Bread?

loaves of challah and easter bread stacked up aside each other, an abundance of food in baskets

Ever since I could remember, it was a treat to receive Easter Bread made by my grandmother. We would only have it once a year and the wait was excruciating. Now that my grandmother has gotten older, she has stopped baking a lot of her recipes that require a lot of hand usage--her traditional Italian baking means no machines. So for the past few years, I have missed enjoying my Easter Bread.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments