The Vox: Bluffton Today and New Media for Cranky Old People
I’m in Del Webb’s Sun City Hilton Head right now. It’s a (semi)retirement gated residential community for white boomers from the Northeast, and I have to be honest–I like it here. There’s golf, tennis, pickleball, nature hiking, and a plethora of other activities.
There are many things that bind this community of 6,000-plus households together: old age, disdain for paying taxes, and a shared appreciation for the local rag, Bluffton Today. We’re all becoming increasingly familiar with particpatory media, in which users can interact and say whatever they want. Newspapers have comment forums that follow stories, CNN news casts have running crawl texts of Twitter feeds, and of course blogs are templates that allow people like myself to say whatever we want without having our content vetted by anyone. I think everyone agrees that we should consider what free speech means in this brave new world of progressive journalism.
There’s something special about Bluffton Today. The daily is perhaps only a daily because it dedicates a huge amount of space to a section called “The Vox.” It’s a little like the “Letter to the Editor” section, except there’s no writing involved. Essentially, people call in and record messages on the phone, and the paper editors transcribe them, with minimal editing or redaction, and print them. All of the messages are anonymous, so participants can say whatever they want about whatever they want.
Thankfully, the comments are culled and organized into categories that the paper provides. They are right now “Sanford,” “Miscellaneous,” “Sun City,” “Michael Jackson,” “Illegals,” and “Business.” See if you can match the comment with the category.
A smattering of what’s on people’s mind in Sun City, with a giant [sic]:
“All you people fussing about Governor Sanford, you better look at your own husbands and wives, 75 percent of them are messing around on you too. So look in your own back yard before you judge him.”
“This is in response to the Vox caller complaining about the Edgefield subdivision. If you don’t like the way things are being handled, all you have to do is move. Also, I happen to like the rocks at the entrance; it really enhances the place.”
“My husband delivered a letter to the Hardeeville post office to mail to a friend in Tucson, Arizona, on a Tuesday. She received it in her Thursday mail. That’s really unheard of since we have such a problem with the Bluffton post office. Usually it takes five days to get to her from Bluffton, but only two days from Hardeeville.”
“We should not vilify our governor. We did that when he refused the stimulus.”
“This message is addressed to the people who run Hidden Cypress golf course. You shut down the course for a month to get it in shape and now the tee boxes, especially 16 and 18, are being overrun by crabgrass and the green on the 16th hole is now being taken over by crabgrass on the fringes. Please take care of this problem before we have to do it all over again.”
“…There are people dying in Iran for freedom and I just watched five hours of coverage of Michael Jackson, the child molester. It makes me sick.”
“There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americans; the ones absolutely certain of bringing this nation to ruin. By preventing all possibility of us to be a nation at all would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities. There is no place for the hyphen in our citizenship. We are a nation, not a hodgepodge of foreign nationalities. We are a people, not a polyglot boarding house.”
“If you are considering concrete repair or resurfacing make sure you check the Better Business Bureau for complaints before you select a local contractor. ”
“…American taxpayers have spent billions of dollars in military operations covering the borders of countries around the world; however, America’s borders remain open and porous to millions of illegal aliens. Why does the United States need 69,000 troops in Germany 58 years after WWII and why are there 11,000 in Italy and another 12,000 in Great Britain? Why do we have 40,000 in Japan?”
Good stuff! I hope On the Media does a report on this.