Last night there was a discussion between Chris (Woods) and Marlo (Carpenter) over sushi about…well about a lot of things but partly about how unbelievable it is that people let their governments walk all over them. I really didn’t contribute anything to the conversation, I mostly listened. I don’t think that people are any more dumb than they used to be. I think if anything people are generally smarter. I think one of the problems is that as there are more people and there is more technology and more bureaucracy, human beings become more dissociated with their environment. We’re given this oversize, clunky, labyrinthine system that we’re expected to fit into but we’re not given a manual to interpret it or the tools to tinker with it – not realistically; not in any manageable way. When a storm comes and knocks a big bough off of the oak tree in your yard and it wrecks your fence, you fix it by going out into your yard with tools and elbow grease. When you’re told that your country has to go to war to prevent destruction and that your quality of life has to suffer to avoid further disaster and so on – how do you fix that ?
The irony is that in recent times the people are much more in a position to control their own destiny than in previous eras of history, but now in the 21st Century we are waylaid by the barrage of impersonal, conflicting messages from an infinite amount of competing hucksters. We’re not interacting with voices, body language, and faces the way that the human being is designed to do, so we have no idea who or what we can trust, so we just shrug our shoulders and resign ourselves to hoping it will all work out while we enjoy our beer, hockey, video games and Star Trek.
Technology especially has made people languid. In the western world, most people’s connection with the things that are going on around them is through television. The ‘idiot box’ is actually a font of information, but it is a different format than a book or the internet. Generally information is available – but it is at best presented in tiny snippets that lack direction, focus and applicability. It is generally information that cannot be applied in any useful way.
The worst part about it is that very few people even think about it. They have had TV all their lives and it is, as Homer says: teacher; mother; secret lover. It manipulates. The entertainment and information available to you and me is pitched, designed, packaged, chopped up, polished (sexxed up), and presented, and we have the barest inkling how, or why, or by whom. The media constantly tells and shows us that there are many injustices in the world, but all it inspires us to improve is our griping skills, and of course to have nice hair, a nice lawn, a nice car and a better cell phone. It gives us plenty of options to drown our sorrows. It’s up to us to sober up for Monday morning.
It’s when people actually get together and talk that headway is made. I admire people who are interested in politics and I more admire people who are active in them. I myself don’t have the patience or the savvy to really dig my heels in. It’s enough of a challenge for me to figure out what the candidates stand for when an election comes up.