Friday, November 9, 2012

wise up

I will not talk about politics. I just can't bring myself to do it. Unless you feel that politics are people strongly expressing their ideas about how society should work. And now I think I just described Facebook. This is really my issue with people getting political, or fired up about their beliefs in general.
We're doing it wrong! No one, but no one, changed their mind about the election because you posted a witty "meme" picture. No one stopped believing in Creationism or Evolution or the flying spaghetti monster or that Star Wars is better than Lord of the Rings because of your three sentence, deconstructed, argument. It's lazy proselytism. A fellow blogging friend of mine (who loves politics way more than I do: ), suggested that if we really cared about who won, we would be volunteering our time, worrying more about local elections that we can effect, and more importantly, educating ourselves. I hate blanket statements, and I have no research to back it up, but I imagine that most people have no idea why they really voted for a particular candidate. They, in actuality, have no idea what each party, candidate or even a single platform entails. They buy into nice platitudes, "Republicans hate poor people" "Democrats are Socialists" "There's more than two parties?"... I could go on. Now look, I'm not saying that social media, or media in general, is a bad thing. I'm not saying that people using it to spread an idea is a bad thing. It's a bad thing when we think that it is persuasive, or should be used as a club to beat dissenters over the head with. This is the whole crux of the blog, so I want you to pay attention to the next sentence. It is good for spreading information. That's it. Would you like to share an obscure piece of policy that will have a long term effect on our trade with Canada? Great! You want to direct me to a website where I can read about a lesser known candidate? Lay it on me! You know where I can find Bob Casey's voting record? I'm salivating! The president giving a fist pound to a guy with a mop next to a picture of Romney getting his shoes shined?
Moving on. These last couple of months have really just been illustrative to one simple fact. I do not believe that we are apathetic. I think we care a lot. We are however, lazy and willfully ignorant. Don't get offended, I  am including myself in the "we". I know, I know, we work hard and don't have time to follow politics, educate ourselves on policy, worry about brown and tan people being killed overseas. But I will argue that it's not time, it's priorities. We somehow find time to follow seven different television shows. We find time to go out to dinner. We find time to pic up junior from soccer practice and take him to piano lessons. I'm not being critical of any of those things, but we are in control of what we deem important.
[So this is the part where you are waiting for me to be critical of our democratic process, or criticize super PACs. Actually, it's the opposite. The problem isn't the system, it's the fact that we believe that the system will fix things. That's the equivalent of buying a lawn mower and then bitching that the lawn still isn't mowed. You still have to use it!]
But that doesn't make us lazy, just uncaring. The sad thing is, when we really do look at those issues we decide they are important. So then we aren't uncaring. So then what are we? We are humans, and as such animals. Animals seek pleasure and avoid pain. We follow the path the least resistance when we allow our baser instincts to take over. It's hard to live in a life of constant focus. It's unpleasant to question our beliefs. And here's the hardest thing: There is so much effort in having an intelligent, meaningful discussion with another human being. Ask yourself, how much time do I spend each day really talking about the things that matter to me, to people that matter to me? Have we become so post modern that we have completely replaced real human interaction with social media? I think the real culprit is not the tool, but our fear. The scariest thing about entering into a conversation with someone of a differing opinion is that they might change our mind! These beliefs that we've spent years cultivating, supporting, polishing, might be wrong! Seriously, just pick one thing that you are really passionate about and learn everything you can about it. Form a real opinion about said thing. Then go and talk to someone about it. Really talk about it. Once you do that, you may be surprised to find much less satiety in your former channels of communication.