AUTHOR’S NOTE: I thank my fellow BIZCATALYST 360˚ scribe, Carol Anderson for inspiring me with her brilliant post, “What Progress Have We Made?” Without her inspiration, what I share here would never have come to be.
I’ve been in a serious funk of late. Serious denotes anything that keeps me from writing, from thinking about writing, or from being enthused about the idea of writing. To an incorrigible and typically undaunted writer like me, that’s serious enough to be cause for equally serious concern.
Then the cause of that funk dawned on me: We’re being played.
The means by which — and the media from which — we get our information is broken. That information is largely untrue, largely unverified, hugely subjective, and shamelessly slanted. It’s sensationalist opiniotainment. It’s opinion, packaged as news, intended to titillate and, thereby, to entertain.
It’s intended to distract us from asking questions, from studying history, from applying common sense and empiricism, from looking at causes, rather than effects. Because we’re so polarized — our choices are to be this (at one polar end), to be that (at the polar opposite end), or to be vilified for being neither — it’s intended to pander to our predilections, regardless of the nature of those predilections. And it knows whereof it panders because those predilections are emotional, not intellectual, because they’re based on feelings, not on knowledge. We don’t know. We don’t have the vaguest desire to know. If we did, we’d ask questions, study history, apply common sense and empiricism, and look at causes, rather than effects.
But we believe we know. That’s even worse.
Opiniotainment is intended to play on the worst aspects of our human nature — our senses of envy, alienation, narcissism, indignation, slighting [insert your favorite ism here], group interests and identities, grievance, and victimization. If I’m not a victim of him, I’m a victim of somebody else. If I’m not a victim of this, I’m a victim of that. If I’m not getting what I think I deserve, there’ll be Hell to pay, especially if I have no desire to earn it. Look at that guy. He has it. I don’t care how he got it. I want it.
It’s intended to make us blame black people, to blame white people, to blame the people on the right, to blame the people on the left, to blame the police, to blame our leaders (who are supposed to be our representatives), to blame each other, to pander to lowest common denominators, and to do everything except stop — stop, think, examine, care, look for causes and cures, and talk to each other.
It’s not intended to unite us. If we united, opiniotainment would be out of business.
The only thing of which we can be absolutely sure is that, no matter what we’re enduring, it’s not our fault. It’s the other guy’s. It’s always the other guy’s. You can tell we’re being played by the very impossibility of that notion.
CAUTION! TRIGGER WARNING! RUN FOR COVER! THIS VIDEO CONTAINS A BAD WORD!
The best we can do at this point is tune-up because we’re being played like fiddles, kids.
P.S. I believe every word I wrote about the media above. I believe the veracity of every embittered sentiment I packed into the video I embedded above. The funk in which I wrote the post was stifling, debilitating, paralyzing. But I finally found the hope; the informed, balanced perspective; the peace; the logic; the reason; the intelligence; the calm; and the grace for which I was longing here:
I temporarily lost my faith. But it’s back. So am I.