Here’s What I Meant To Say

So, I had this big long post about the election ready to go and for some reason I couldn’t hit the publish button. It was a brilliant evisceration of the left’s nauseating tendency towards self-flagellation after any setback and a biting attack on the right’s hypocritical new “only the government can give me a job” stance. But, although it felt great to write it all down, I could not bring myself to post it.

 

With this button, I thee publish... Actually, let's just take a moment and think about this.

With this button, I thee publish… Actually, let’s just take a moment and think about this.

 

That’s because I realized that this isn’t a political blog, so I owe it to you and to me to stay focused on my writing, my career and the self-publishing/publishing industry. Also, it’s clear to me that several people have already published the things I wanted to say and expressed them much better than I did. Much of my post went too far and was too angry. I lost focus on the thing I really wanted to express, which was simply: Don’t stop caring about what’s important to you and don’t let internet soundbytes that pass along ridiculous generalizations bait you into the trap of contributing to the machinery of fear and hate.

I lost that message in my gigantic, forever-to-be-hidden manifesto. I’ll keep this version of the manifesto short, but I decided I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t at least communicate that message in response to everything that is going on.

My message is for everyone, on the left and the right. Please stop thinking government is the solution to all the problems of the world. You’re putting way too much pressure on a body of very fallible humans. Seriously, they aren’t lizard people. They’re just like you and me and they are not a monolithic organization. Additionally, some things people hate about the federal government are actually things their state government is responsible for and most people seem to not realize it. Speaking of which, do not excuse ignorance. Let’s not start cozying up to people who disregard facts and disdain intelligence. Some of the bloodiest revolutions in history that lead to nothing but repressive regimes were started by marginalizing and killing off the intellectual elite.

Finally, stay focused on what’s in front of you. Don’t be lazy and shout slogans at groups of cops or bodies of protesters. If someone has done you wrong, then find them and start a dialog about how to fix it. Use a lawyer if you have to, we have plenty of them. If no one has harmed you, only offended you, then ignore them. You’ve got more important things to do in your life than to let someone get under your skin. If someone has harmed a friend of yours and they’re afraid to stand up for themselves to seek justice, then go stand with them. It’s likely that you won’t ever be a victim, but it’s perhaps equally likely someone you know will be. Offer to help in whatever way you can.

It really does not need to be more complicated than that. If you see something on the internet that upsets you and you feel like you need to respond to it, then take the time to research it and figure out the appropriate course of action. Maybe you can write to your representative or maybe you can send money or even volunteer. But, if you feel like the best course of action is to comment on a thread somewhere, just be advised that no evil was ever righted by forwarding a meme.

 

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Okay, that’s good enough. I think that sums up the best of what I had to say. I’ll do you all a favor and save the worst of what I had to say for myself.

Do the write thing!

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Jon Stewart and what he means

For those who have been living under a mountain, Jon Stewart has resigned as host of the Daily Show. Actually, I guess if you’ve been living under a mountain, you might not even know what the Daily Show is. In fact, I find it highly unusual that you can even get the internet in your subterranean domain. Unless you are somehow rich and powerful and no doubt eccentric and can afford the miles and miles of super-secret fiber-optic cables? Can you even read English, you half-crazed Goblin King?

For the sake of the other reader of this blog (you know who you are – no, it’s not time for jello and Jeopardy yet) I’ll imagine you can read English and you have a rough idea of what has transpired in American media over the last 15 years. Because, really, it would just be too much to try to recap. You know… I just want to keep things moving, otherwise reader #2 gets distracted.

 

"Thanks..."

“Thanks…”

 

Jon Stewart’s departure from the Daily Show has been met with much rending of clothes and loud and tearful lamentations among the liberal elite and more-or-less confused masses, yearning to be set free from the burden of original thought. That may sound overly critical, but that’s only because it is.

Now, before you finish scowling at me and skitter back to the dark and buried secrets of your no doubt well-appointed cave, I confess that I am a fan of both Jon Stewart and the Daily Show. Actually, probably just the two together. I didn’t think much of either before they were joined. They were two mediocre tastes that somehow tasted not just great, but TEH GR8!!!!!1111onethousandonehundredeleven together. I will miss him and am forever grateful for his gift of satire and much-needed criticism during one of the darkest eras of frightened conformity that has ever gripped our nation.

But discussing his leaving and what his presence/absence means and has meant to our country is not the conversation we should be having. Judging by the reports coming from radio, TV and web, we are paralyzed by fear and grief over losing a national icon! Whatever shall we do?

The answer? Change the conversation. The debate should not be, nor should it ever have been (and I believe Jon Stewart would agree with this) “What Does Jon Stewart Mean?” The debate should be, and should always have been, why the hell are we taking a satirist’s view of the news more seriously than mainstream journalism? What has happened in this country that we mistrust our newspapers and nightly news segments so much? Why have those once serious-minded institutions warped themselves into mouthpieces of demagogues and echo chambers for sound-bytes? Why did it take a fake news show to show us that all the real news shows were also fake?

 

Seriously, this might as well be on at 7.

Seriously, this might as well be on at 7.

 

More importantly, was it always like this? Did we always value entertainment over factual reporting? Hate speech over nuanced debate? The ten word slogan over the long interview? The truth is yes. Most definitely, yes. We’ve always been like this – and by “we” I include all of western civilization – but with the opening of the borders of media, where more people of every type of broadcasting acumen and background have a microphone, we’re beginning to see just how silly we all are.

Can we talk about that instead? Can we discuss how The Daily Show started to make us realize how necessary it is to laugh at each other and ourselves, instead of letting media outlets encourage us to be fearful and hateful? Can we ruminate on the possibility that with such a (possible) detente in the politicization of media we move forward and come to a new era of understanding and reason because we can look at each other more as humans and less as straw men and effigies? Can we laugh at our differences and solemnly agree about our similarities and (horror of horrors) find that compromise and reasoned discussion are the ways to build a better society?

 

Or maybe just meme each other to death?

Or maybe just agree on forwarding a few less memes?

 

Probably not. Instead, let’s make another demagogue out of Jon Stewart. See where that gets us.