Oh, boy, I hope one of my journalism professors is reading this, because it’ll prove some of what they taught me actually stuck!
Wikipedia defines the “Marketplace of Ideas” as: “a rationale for freedom of expression based on an analogy to the economic concept of a free market.” I couldn’t have put it better. Well, a little more simply, the ideas you talk about the most have more of a chance of existing in our freely expressive society than the ideas you’d rather push under the rug. Make sense? In our capitalistic society, it should.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure some worthy ideas are surviving, and that’s partly due to human nature. We have a herd mentality. We’re influenced by our friends and neighbors and society at large. Often, we’re lulled into submission to ideas we really don’t care for by the fact that “everybody else does it.” Don’t you remember your mom saying, “If everybody else jumped off a cliff, would you do it?” Mom was right. We aren’t lemmings, even if we sometimes act like it.
That’s why I buy organic food as often as possible. Do I like paying $2 for a green pepper? No. And organically grown apples don’t last as long as regular, pesticide-sprayed apples, so I have buy fewer at a time so they don’t go to waste. But I believe that organic food is better for me and the environment (y’all know I support the honeybees!), so I do it whenever possible. Because more and more people are buying organic, grocery stores are stocking more of it and wa-la! The marketplace of ideas at work.
I’d like to encourage everybody who reads this (most days that’s about two or three people, but hey, maybe you can spread the word) to talk about an idea that’s something important to them today. And more than that, do a little research. Look up articles, post interesting ones on your Facebook page or Tweet about them, if you do that. My friends will tell you I’ve been boring the hell out of them with all the articles I’ve posted about the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. (I won’t call it a spill anymore — spill reminds me of milk, and that ain’t milk out there killing dolphins and sea turtles.) I won’t stop googling it anytime soon, either. It’s important to me that this subject not be swept under BP’s multibillion dollar rug. And if everybody stops looking, that’s what will happen.
So Google or Yahoo or whatever you do. And if you don’t do any of that, find a paper or magazine that has an article in it about something you believe in. Because, believe me, Big Brother is watching, but we can use him to do good if we put our minds to it.