More and more often, when it comes to the concerns of society at large, I find myself operating under the theory that if I can’t say something kind then I’ll endeavor to say something vague.
This methodology doesn’t stem from an epiphany of overwhelming compassion or the onset of a feeling of oneness with humanity. It doesn’t arise from a desire to avoid stirring the pot or to avoid conflict or bruised feelings.
Really, I think the impetus for my apathy stems from the fact that our current culture too frequently lives in fantasyland, drinking deep from the rivers of denial. There’s a widespread addiction to mock outrage and hand wringing over matters that are both ludicrous and inconsequential.
In other words, I steer clear of most 21st century debates because they bore me into a near-comatose state. Few of them are worthy of the mental horsepower required in offering an opinion. I just did a quick scan of the news to get a view of topics that seems to be on the top-10 list of public interest.
• The Presidential election
• Genetically modified foods
• The latest tech gadgets
• The Kardassians
• The environment
• Political correctness
Now, don’t get me wrong. At least two-thirds of these subjects, under the right circumstances, are pretty important; they are worthy of thoughtful deliberation The problem, and the reason my sense of ennui has blasted up to warp nine, revolves around the tone of the discussion, the absolute lack of knowledge espoused and the factual inaccuracies that are regurgitated with regularity.
We live in the era of the knee-jerk reaction, a time when people spread whatever half-truths, lies, gossip, opinions or innuendo they pick up off Twitter or Facebook. We live in an era where emotional intensity far outweighs careful consideration of deductive reasoning and reality. We don't really look at problems and seek solutions. We dig our heels in the sand and attempt to out-shout our adversaries.
If I want to make things up and tell myself my opinion is absolutely correct all I have to do is drink heavily and talk to a mirror.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Half of what you read, hear or see in newspapers, TV, radio and the Internet consist of half-truths. The rest consists of half lies. To really express an informed opinion about anything a person must dispense with preconceived notions, with personal ideology, with caviar wishes, champagne dreams and emotional desires. One must get the facts, digest them and not be afraid to admit that there’s a chance his initial belief might have been flat-out wrong.
But, that’s not how 21st century America thinks or reacts. Heck, that might have been the case in just about every century (I don’t know . . . I wasn’t there). The difference now is that gossip, wild-eyed stories, smear campaigns, propaganda and lies spread ‘round the world at the speed of light. It may not be that there’s more BS floating around than in years past . . . it’s just that we’re constantly bombarded with BS, experience it instantaneously.
As information flow increases so does the dissemination of utter nonsense. I’m really not surprised that just about the only things I care about these days are friends, family, dogs and guitars.
As far as priorities go . . . I really don’t think those are too bad.