Gossip Nation – out of context

For one who does not push this blog or post on it daily, I have a reasonable number of subscribers and get a reasonable number of views of my typically weekly posts. I enjoy the feedback from all of them, even when some of it makes me cringe. I do receive more email feedback than comments made on the site. Feedback is an accepted part of the world of instant communication. Put something out there and someone will feel the need to say something about it. I embrace it. Too often though, it is accompanied by much verbosity albeit bollixed and tainted with keyboard courage. It never lets up. I stand amazed at the length of some of the responses I read. Lacking in original thought, they are paragraph upon paragraph, typically longer than the 600 or so word essay of which they are so critical, under the pretense of analyzing a thought of mine. The entire barrage too often centers on one thought or one sentence and sometimes even a single word, God and abortion come to mind, leaving me to wonder if the entire piece was read and contemplated or if the writer has ever embraced a contextual thought. Would not life be simpler for them and maybe a tad less stressful if they contemplated and shared their own thoughts for critique – on their own blog? Or, maybe they need to be critical of another’s thoughts because sharing theirs originally might be akin to an MSNBC broadcast. No one pays attention when possibly attention is what they seek.

Frankly, I believe in our world today there is too much conversation and too little contemplation. We have much to say about one another, but habitually demonstrate sparse introspect. We do not look into our own mirror so convinced that what we have to say ends the conversation. That is the sad state of humankind these days – at least the American variety. We do not understand ourselves, making it rather hopeless that we could ever understand others.

By now, all of us have encountered the restaurant dinner table where everyone seated has their nose buried in a smart phone texting and tweeting or whatever else it is they do. Witness someone being attacked on the street these days and a hundred cell phones will appear to capture the future You Tube video. How about we put the phone away and assist the person under attack, or at least use it to call the police. In the old days of Star Trek television, we used to chuckle at Captain Kirk talking to Scottie on his flip top communicator, now because we have our own we appear unable to have a simple conversation across the table. It is so much easier to belittle someone with a hash tag than to look them in the eye and do it. Candor replaced by distance and cyber courage. Face to face conversation being lost to the modern day.

We are turning into an ignorant society. I lay no claim to being the sharpest tack in the carpenter’s pouch, but I try hard to keep informed. I know what is going on in my country and internationally and if someone asked me who the Vice President is, I am convinced I could answer the question. Too many Americans lack the necessary knowledge to cast an intelligent vote. This brand of ignorance brought us to where we are now, on the verge of societal breakdown and the end of our nation. We are headline readers at best. That is why Matt Drudge is so successful. That is why the Internet itself is so successful. That is why we tweet and text across the table. We compound problems rather than solving them because critical thinking – something that far exceeds 144 characters – is not practiced as it was long before the days of instant and characteristically bogus information. This is not just happening across the dinner table, it is also happening in our media and in our government.

We have become a gossip nation of headline readers, tweeters, and texters rather than an informed people. Maybe I am just a dinosaur. Maybe not, but no matter the platform with which we share information, willful ignorance will be our end.

© J. D. Pendry American Journal 2014

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