It’s two weeks till Christmas and there’s rain in San Diego. When the deluge drops here, you can see more easily the results of our substandard education system in America, more readily than you could otherwise by simply scrolling through your Facebook feed to see which of your uncles and aunts is recommending something from Fox News, under the byline added, something about “taking back our country from the socialist race baiting takers.” It’s hard to get depressed though, because there is rain.
On days like these, the music I listen to that would otherwise be called droopy, down or depressing is instead “coffee house” or “fitting of the mood.” Nice it is, then, to finally have the world fit your constant mood.
It’s hard not to be depressed these days, when compromise in Washington means Wall Street gets what they want, and we don’t lose everything, when Dodd Frank gets further rolled back, and the government, luckily for us, isn’t shut down. I don’t think those in Aspen give a shit if the government fails, nor do the Fox News types give a shit about how Florida responds when they can’t get their social security checks mailed. As long as there are guns and gays to divide us, things for them are safe, as always.
Alex Smith the quarterback said in a commencement speech that it is better to be “respected” than “popular.” I suppose that’s fitting, for he still works with his hands. In a world in which Kim Kardashian has made millions off of the shape of her ass, her abilities in the bedroom, the sex tape she produced, it might instead be better to tell our kids that popularity is more important than ever, just as we might have used to say “it’s better to be lucky than good” in homage to Woody Allen. They say the music recording industry is dying, that streaming has killed it, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Taylor Swift pulling her shit from Spotify just goes to show how popular the radio is, still is, always will be, because the radio isn’t FM, AM or XM, the radio is what plays, maybe not in your trendy coffee shop – or, especially there – but in the malls and on the television screens during each and every commercial. It is the soundtrack of capitalism, and it’s just in time for the holiday season.
“Merry Christmas” though, nor “Happy Holidays,” because we can’t make white Christians feel like outsiders for once in their lives, they have to always feel on the inside, the favored and chosen race for this shining and innocent nation that is a city on a hill. Or so I’ve been told.
It’s hard to be young in America today when every opinion I hold stands in contrast to my parents, my family. That, of course, is nothing unusual, on the great spectrum of familial engagement. I am not the first to rock a democratic bumper sticker to stick it to my parents. I am, though, of the first to deal with that disagreement daily through social media.
As I waited in the room designated for these things at the pseudo hospital within my school, I sat alone for the hour and half with my migraine and the incessant gossip of the women who sat behind the glass partition, signing us in, or, rather, pointing us towards the computer screen machines who do it for them, instead. They talked almost exclusively about Facebook, and social media, how they couldn’t believe that so and so would post this, or comment that…
People talk about the infantilization of the American male, of delayed adulthood, generations dying to stay living young, but rather, I think it’s much the other way. Facebook has brought middle school back to our parents, our uncles, our aunts. Their missed connections no longer fester alone on some dingy Craigslist or Backpage, but are facilitated through “people you may know.”
Studies show, or so the cliché goes, that we are, as a society, (whoever that we is, we are) are developing problems of the neck and spine as a result of craning our heads down to fill each and every unoccupied “awkward” moment. We can #takebackthelivingroom and we can try and unplug, but the inherent logic of technocapitalism is one that incessantly seeks to remind us how individual we are, how unique our experience is. We Spotify our way through our commute, we work out with the soundtrack to our very own Rocky experience, we skip the commercials and record our own programs, we all have our own websites, photo sites, music sites, resume web pages. We are multiple and we are many shades of our same self. But we are all selves special and unique and snow flakes, whatever those look like, anyway…
And just when you thought social media would make it all better, I’m starting to disagree. What I might have thought was an avenue for thought is instead a place for the ugliest of dialectics to unfold: us vs them, either / or thought online peaks…
People see their feeds filled with the latest indignant moment suffered by a minority, and others see it ripe for the a chance to post their article or rant in defense, or in opposition. It’s Fox News vs. MSNBC virtually, between not talking heads but typing avatars. And I’m not so sure it’s a bad thing anymore than I’m sure it isn’t a good thing. It’s just that with the world’s greatest means by which to communicate with the greatest numbers of people in the history of the world, we’ve resorted to sharing cat videos (I mean, can you blame us?) and regurgitating vitriol.
But as you can see, I’m not so sure this is a bad thing. Cats, and, videos of them, are pretty amazing. And I, of course, love to spit fire at bullshit as I see it across the viral virtual landscape of Facebook. However, I’m beginning to feel that the reason I love it so much is that it serves as a cleansing, as a binge, as a relief for all the shit I see everywhere else, on newsfeeds, in news pieces, and from the virtual mouths of people who I probably should unfollow.
Is seeing so much more of the bullshit I can’t stand a good thing? When is the other side of view a bad thing?
We don’t read articles in the time it takes to repost them, and we are all guilty, despite the noble men and women of principle among us, those of us still take the time…
But who has any of that?
Oh, BTW. Another school shooting in America today. This time, in Oregon. It’s morning in America, and I can already use a stiff drink.