Zimmerman

Just as a body requires nutrients to survive, and to be able to expel toxicity, we likewise need to do the same with information. As Americans increasingly fail to metabolize massive amounts of carbohydrates, we have simultaneously lost the ability absorb, and sift through the deluge superfluous data we take in every day. With tabloid, ratings driven news-ertainment having supplanted journalism as the common means by which we garner current events, our ability to cognitively metabolize media has been compromised by a steady diet of sugar coated propaganda. The diversions from more pressing political or economic issues amount to insulin for the nation’s cerebral diabetes.

We’ve become intellectually unhealthy, lazy in our thinking, and have fed our bias past the point of morbid obesity.

In a big scary world where real life monsters manifest as disappearing pensions and inaccessible health care, our diminishing ability to psychologically cope with the feelings of powerlessness that accompany the twenty-first century have caused many to project their anxiety at tabloid social issues. Mired in a Pavlovian feedback loop, the American proletariat has been conditioned to salivate every time the news media makes the determination of where we should focus our attention. On some visceral level, we feel more emotionally equipped to offer sociological opinions on tabloid subject matter than we do the economy. And in that regard, it allows us to feel a little less powerless.

America is afraid. So do as we’ve been trained to do in order to internally rationalize our anxiety. We engage in the partisan rhetoric, and ignore things that require acumen, or which might require us to accord uncomfortable realities. We cope with fear by being angry at one another. Indeed, Americans have been Nancy Grace’d into a waking coma.

But it gets worse. With the advent of social media, our polarization has become philosophically paralyzing. Facebook and Twitter have allowed us to engage one another directly. Thus, our fear and hyper-partisanship are realized in guttural reactions to complex social and economic issues. Our diminishing intellects and collective unwillingness to generate genuine comprehension have crippled our ability to effectively communicate, and reduced us to a nation of conspiratorial, hyperbolic, name calling dullards.

We’ve gotten to a point where one’s choice of laundry detergent can reduce them to ally or enemy.

As such, American social media has diminished every aspect of sociology to equate with over-simplified, black and white perspectives. So we gather information that coincides with our predispositions, and dismiss that which contradicts them. It is no longer enough to feel that our vapid, uninformed opinions are so completely justified that there is no room for any concession, but the world has to understand that whomever lies in the path of our enfeebled sensibilities must be so utterly wrong, morally bankrupt and intellectually inferior that they are due ridicule from the entire internet. But of course, those with whom we disagree feel the same about us. Our collective need to have some sort of control over our fear –and to be “right”– often precludes us from sharing empathy with one another.

And around and around we go. It’s not that anybody is right, or that anybody is wrong. It’s that (to some degree) everybody is right, and everybody is wrong. Falling prey to sensationalist media is a no-win scenario, and the people who profit from tabloid news know it. In fact, they bank on it. literally.

The danger of subjectivity harmonizing with cynicism on any given issue can affect our overall perspectives moving forward. From a sociological perspective, tabloid news is interesting insofar as how people can interpret the same evidence in accordance with their own predispositions, and how –as a society– we are prone to polarization. Whether one is partial to believe in anyone’s guilt or innocence, those choices are often made before information is gathered, or objectivity can be implemented so as to accord one’s bias. Tabloid news says a lot more about our capacity to remain mired in subjectivity than it does our judicial system.

The very purpose of the establishing a free press in our country was to keep our focus on the judiciary, legislative, and executive branches of our government. Not to distract us from them. But as with every other industry, profit alters perspective. So we find our media being dummied down to our lowest intellectual common denominator and arguing over symptomatic social issues, while their root causes go unaddressed.

Sadly, the same capital lobbies that collude with Congress to undermine our economy, and our judicial system also own the media. They need us polarized, and bickering with one another. For if we ever stopped to notice that our democratic republic is being slowly terraformed into an Orwellian aristocracy, “We the People” might learn to metabolize the bad information we are being fed.

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About Rich Woods

Rich Woods is the author of the critically acclaimed books, UnLearn Vanilla Marriage, and Yahweh to Hell. He is also a columnist, sociologist, and satirist who has performed seminars around the country. He's also made several TV and radio appearances. Transitioning from a blue-collar background has given Mr. Woods a unique perspective --and an even more unique elocution--among his peers. Raised Catholic, Mr. Woods is now a very public atheist who champions the separation of church and state. He's an advocate for non-traditional relationships, including --but not limited to-- negotiating non-monogamy, as well as being a vocal opponent of political correctness. Throughout his career, Woods has had colorful metaphors hurled in his direction from both liberals, and conservatives. To be honest, most of the vitriol comes from the Tea Party. However, he considers one of his greatest accomplishments having been called "Harry Reid's Lapdog" , and referred to as being "just like Rush Limbaugh" from two different sources within minutes of one another. Originally from Queens, New York, and presently residing in central New Jersey, Rich Woods is madly, and hopelessly in love with his wife Jane since before they were wed in 2002, and is the proud father of two successful, brilliantly creative, young adult children. Try as he might, he can't juggle.

Posted on July 15, 2013, in Recent Posts, Socio/Political and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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