President Obama can't work iPads or Xboxes, iPods or PS3s

How the new nature of discourse in America is "putting pressure on our country and on our democracy."
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor

President Barack Obama gave the commencement address at Hampton University, a historically black university in Hampton, Virginia yesterday.

During his address, he criticized all our modern gadgets as "distraction, a diversion, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than a means of emancipation".

You think?

He went on to say, "iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, -- none of which I know how to work..."

What is there to know? They're consumer electronics devices. You turn them on. They work, they annoy, they suck you in, and then they spit you back out.

Of course, we all know that the President does know how to handle mobile devices. There was a big fuss early on over whether he'd get to keep his BlackBerry. He didn't keep the BlackBerry, but he got something close enough.

What the President was talking about, really, was how the new nature of discourse in America is "putting pressure on our country and on our democracy."

He's right, of course. Not a day goes by that those of us in the chattering class don't chatter about the future of the press. The old, gray press many of us grew up with, a news media that seemed all-knowing, all-seeing -- and very one-sided -- that media is on its way out for good.

In its place is strident rhetoric and a little insanity. Rather than Walter Cronkite, we have Glenn Beck. Rather than Edward R. Murrow, we have the Rush Limbaughs and Jon Stewarts of radio and television.

Plus, of course, we have the blogs. Anyone and everyone has a blog and as many blogs as there are out there, that's how many different (and often wildly inaccurate) opinions there are.

The President's final point, though, is timeless in its truth and importance:

It [America] could only work if each of us stayed informed and engaged, if we held our government accountable, if we fulfilled the obligations of citizenship.

I'm betting Sasha and Malia could show the President a trick or two on the Xbox and PS3.

What do you think?

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