Thursday, January 16, 2020

The World Has Gone...

By Cheryl Oreglia

Is it just me or has the world gone mad?

I'm up for a Google search this week and less than eager to share my findings.

Let's be honest, it seems as if everyone is enraged about something these days. It doesn't matter if you are on the right or left, from the North or South, rich or poor, skinny or fat, male or female, religious or atheist, young or old, pigment challenged or not. People are going berserk?

You might be curious as to what all this fuss is about?

I'm glad you asked because what I found was rather disheartening.

People are mad about...politicians, mass shootings, misogynists, terrorist, climate change, taxes, healthcare, same sex marriage, immigration, fires, law enforcement, crime, war, poverty...the list is long and difficult to contemplate.

If you've watched any of the debates you will have seen most of the politicians concur, we live in a chaotic world, in need of a savior (wasn't that what we just celebrated?)

As a survival technique I tend to squint at these controversial issues, shading myself from being over exposed, and then absolutely blow my stack if the toilet paper dispenser is empty, the dog eats my sock, or I encounter a slow driver in the fast lane, sometimes a dusty shelf can do me in.

We are all on overload.

But why?

Mark Mason says violent crime is at an all-time low, international wars are at an all-time low, there have been precipitous drops in domestic violence, steady declines in drunk driving-related deaths, death from infectious diseases, and a rock-bottom child mortality rates. You’re more likely to be killed by a piece of furniture than by a terrorist attack.

So why am I feeling so out of control?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and quote Ta-Nehisi Coates who says, “The violence is not new; it’s the cameras that are new.”

We have all these social media platforms ~ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and a few undisclosed sites that only people under 30 know about? But believe me they are out there.

People like hits on their platforms and guess what gets rewarded for sharing? Controversial, scandalous, and criminal stories, especially if it involves blood - even if they're wildly exaggerated, or worse fake news. The crazier the story the more it is retweeted, shared, and viewed or spread if you will. If you haven't noticed people are glued to their iPhones, we're inundated with data, and we have no way of assessing the accuracy or processing the content.

No wonder we think this is the end of times. As Mason notes we live in an attention economy where extremism and bias are not only indulged but perpetuated. It's an apocalyptic mentality that is celebrated and spreading like the wild fires in Australia.

While we continue to stoke these fires, there is no way for reason and moderation to dampen the rage, it's all smoke and mirrors, because anything else seems boring.

Mark Mason says, it’s this feeling that has consumed the consciousness of millions of people, and caused them to look at their country through the lens of a fun-house mirror: exaggerating all that is wrong and minimizing all that is right.

How do we come to any resolution when we've become so polarized?

Truth is a close relative to fiction (in my book). If I want to be perfectly transparent, which I don't, we could name humor as the proverbial parent, one who loves unconditionally the incarnate story of you (sorry I have Christmasitas - it lingers). Okay, I'm finished with this line of thinking, except to say, when done well, story gives birth to something akin to new life, and I've come to believe after this arduous google search that story is the only way to write us out of this current scenario.

Is there a conclusion?

This is the crazy part, despite the fact that we live in relative safety, poverty at an all time low, we have complete access to all the information we want, and what do we choose ~ The National Inquirer no less! No wonder we think the world has gone mad.

It's as if we're all crammed together in some sort of modern day Noah's Ark, we've been swept away by a flood of negativity, submerging the very structures on which we have built the most successful civilization in human history.

How can we change this narrative? Thoughts?

When I'm not writing for Across the Board, I'm Living in the Gap, drop by anytime. 

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