iPads, Xboxes Pressure Democracy, Says Obama

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In his commencement speech at Hampton University in Virginia, President Barack Obama set his sights on modern media and a handful of vessels that deliver the news.

“You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter,” he told the students. “And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.”

He’s right about one thing; the amount of chatter that bubbles up on the Internet can be overwhelming. I also have to agree that the gadgets we write about on a daily basis here at Techland are a distraction. But the iPad shouldn’t really be in the same camp as an Xbox or iPod. It’s a repository for vast amounts of information; it’s the Internet in a more portable form. Sure, I play my fair share of games on the thing but I’m swiping through news apps more often than not.

But how is it putting a strain on democracy? How is it that the information I glean on a daily basis not empowering me? If anything, it’s made me more of a skeptic. Was President Obama just throwing out those buzzwords to get folks attention?