It’s a strange time out there in the universe right now. I’ve been listening and watching and mulling these past few weeks, and in his latest and brilliant State of the Union message http://is.gd/HOx2Kw, even President Obama referred to the pointless, non-productive game of “gotcha” too often played in Washington for political points.
Now, it’s not like the game of “gotcha” has just been invented. I imagine it may have been going on ever since one caveman decided to steal another neighbor’s better and hotter fire. And certainly, how it all plays out in our present condition continues to evolve and shift, particularly now that social media seems to have assumed for itself (in its often arrogant and self-important manner) the role of know-more and know-better entity than any pundit, expert, scholar or first-hand witness available for opinion and testimony, if only they were asked.
Today, between the fluff-up over the Patriot’s deflated footballs in last week’s Super Bowl deciding game http://is.gd/L2eTo3 to the ungraceful scandals and potential falls from grace of several icons ranging from Bill Cosby http://is.gd/88kzxG to Prince Andrew http://is.gd/9kwMUh, it might be wise for one to step back from the noise and consider just what kind of game is being played out today in the media and what the costs to our sense of values and basic integrity may end up being in the end by buying into all the hyperbole.
Who drives what today? There was a time when people, from regular Joe’s to famous celebrities, fought hard to keep their name OUT of the press and away from the public. Studios hired fixers to make certain that no controversial or provocative information leaked out that had the potential to destroy the carefully constructed images of their most famous stars.
Today, it’s a complete flip flop of that. Today, it doesn’t matter what is said or alleged as long as it gets attention and creates buzz. Who needs talent? Or taste? Or discretion?
But at what cost? What have we lost? What can one lose in a game of gotcha with those game rules?
Years ago, not only did people fight to keep shame and disgrace away from their door, but the media decided what was appropriate and decent news for them to consider broadcasting to their audiences. Now one can make a strong argument for the right to free speech and media. As well as the right to know. But that phrase, right to know, transparency, has that been our Achilles heel. Will it prove to be our undoing in the end?
Now, everyone from terrorists to politicians, and there are those who could argue that the line between those two in some instances gets blurred, are able to use and manipulate the media on their own timeline to get their message out. And the media, often in seemingly knee-jerk response, complies. If it happens, you can count on it being broadcast moments later.
Imagine a world in which all of the horrible shootings and atrocities were not reported moment to moment. Just consider how our world would differ if a kid who’s only demented goal was to leave behind a kill record of being on the earth by shooting up a school wasn’t guaranteed some kind of sick legacy engraved on the public psyche by local and national media attention. Would his desire for attention and importance shift if no one noticed except the victim’s families and friends? And would those families and friends be all right with not having it become a national tragedy?
We’re all complicit, in large and small ways, in the way things go down these days. But these are questions worth asking. How can we shift our unhealthy national obsession with guns, killings, notoriety and their relationship and support of social and broadcast media to a different, healthier and more productive focus?
Aren’t we all responsible even though we’re not actively participating? Passivity is not a pass for bad things happening. In fact, at times, it’s those of us who don’t speak up who are the biggest part of the problem.
So where are you on this spectrum? Seemingly causing the problem or sitting back and watching the car head towards the tree and doing nothing to stop it or protest.
Maybe it’s time we all considered how we might create a different world moving forward in which bad choices and actions don’t drive that car while we watch and react.
Hard cover, Kindle and audio versions of Olive’s book, The Nude Ethicist: A Simple Path to The Good Life™, are available on amazon.com.