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Bad News: Doom, Gloom, Passivity, and Egotism

With news saturated with bad news, people's reactions are often the same.

For my fist article, writing for Operation Reality, I wanted to write about a subject that is on everyone’s mind: a subject that not only pays homage to it host’s operation, but also holds sway in everyone’s reality; actively or passively. After contemplating it for some time, it became quite clear what needed to be my introductory topic. Whether you live in Europe, North America, or any other continent, the current economic crisis has played some role in shaping your life.

WAIT! DON’T GO!!!

Before you jump to any conclusions as to what this article is about and click back on your browser, it behooves you to continue reading!

I know everyone is tired of reading the news and seeing only doom and gloom. Every day we are bombarded with more information, statistics, and bad news about how our reality… well, sucks. The internet is saturated, damp and soiled with the preverbal excrement of data, interpretations about the data, and everyone’s opinions about the interpretations about the data! This is what I want to talk about. Not the actual fanatical crisis, but, what I can only imagine, was your initial reaction to the last sentience of the first paragraph. You are tired of hearing about it.

How people react to more information is really what this article is about.

Now comes the part where I give my two cent’s about your, and sadly my own, visceral and predictable reaction to more information about this crisis: it scares me. We are so quick to dismiss the news simply because it is so exhausting hearing, what seems to be, the same old story again and again. Whether it’s the riots in London (didn’t the same thing happen in 2001… and 1995… and 1985, 81, and 80?), the decline of U.S. credit rating (this only recently happened?), the violent protests in Syria (more instability in the Middle East? That’s new), and so on and so. And although even I am guilty of skimming or even outright skipping the news in favor for rage comics or video games, I only now realize I am subject to a form of control predicted 80 years ago by a man named Aldous Huxley. We are controlled by pleasure.

In the novel “Brave New World”, Huxley addresses certain fears he held that would shape modern society. It turns that many of his predictions of modern society, especially western society, have come to fruition.

Huxley feared that we would live in a society that would provide us with abundance thus reducing the human condition to passivity and egotism. In a world with Facebook and Twitter, it’s impossible to deny that we are all guilty of posing for that perfect profile picture, (the one that doesn’t make us look fat) distracting us from doing what is actually important (like helping ourselves from being fat by working out). He feared that life would become trivial; so preoccupied with the orgy that is modern society that the answers and the truths would be drowned in a sea of irrelevancy. With major news sources more concerned with providing the latest celebrity gossip, giving their own opinionated bias, and entertaining their customers (because that’s exactly what we are to them) it is hard to determine what is real and what is hyperbole.

Huxley put it most succinctly: the civil libertarians and anti-fascists of our world, who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny where ever it may arise, “failed to account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”.

Aldous Huxley's preemptive reation to modern mainstream media: facepalm

I am not saying that modern media is inherently evil. Quite the opposite, I find the wonder that is instant communication incredible. During the Egyptian protests I found myself reading posts on twitter about what was happening before the mainstream media had a chance to give their spin on the facts. Information that would have been impossible to access only a decade ago is now as simple as a few clicks thanks to Wikileaks. But as much as the internet is a wonderful place, gifting people with access to a plethora of human knowledge, it is that exact gift that is its downfall. With too much information at our finger tips society is not only willing to be rendered pacified it cries in agony for distraction.

“Oh, that’s horrible what is happening in London! I wish I could do something about it… HA! I love looking at cute videos with cats!”

In “Brave New World” people are controlled by inflicting pleasure. I believe that is what is happening today and believe many of you feel the same way. So, please, next time you see an article about our current economic crisis, read it. Don’t just skim it: READ IT. You may be surprised by what read. It might be depressing, but if you take the time to figure out why things are going so horribly I guarantee it will make you mad. To use a clique line from an old movie: “first you’ve got to get mad!” It’s only after society gets mad, that we as a collective, will be willing to do something about this crisis.

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1 Comment

  1. Sparing the millennium of philosophy and thought that has been poured into the research behind the human nature, I can only agree wholeheartedly with this article. However, I find it is a smaller part of the greater ‘problem’ within humanity itself: The need to fulfill one’s instinctual desires and achieve the most basic of pleasures. None can argue against the fact that every act that is done, be it selfish or selfless, is rooted by a subconscious desire to achieve a level of self-contentedness, thus bringing about pleasure. For the mother, it is to see her children grow and succeed. For the teacher, it is to see his students become successful in their studies. For the writer, it is for the reader to either become informed or simply be entertained. Even the soldier that falls on the grenade to save his comrades… though they are all doing it for others, some part of them will feel happy, or pleasured, that they are committing the act and in doing so achieve self-satisfaction. However, most people only tend to point this phenomena when something negative occurs, such as a robbery, murder, a lie, or what have you.

    People absolutely need to start paying attention to the world around them as it is instead of as they want it to be. Indeed, it is a depressing place with few happy endings. But humanity has not aspired towards ‘happiness’ as it has survival – such as an exodus most blatantly resulting in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and every little law passed by the American Government’s offices – to name but one example within all human history. The irony in this is that the definition of survival changes with the ebb of time, and that has a direct impact on how people feel they are content, happy, entertained, etc. A meal that would once have brought true joy to many the majority of families, and which still does today in some parts of the world, is today taken for granted and as a responsibility of those who rule over us instead of our very selves. Such does the times’ critics change, and the challenges that arise every day that threaten the decade’s ‘survival’

    I would ask that all who read this article take heed in it’s words – the only true education is self education, and acts based on ignorance or bias are as wrong as the ideal they are trying to overturn. Look past your own needs and desires and see ‘the bigger picture’. See how every little thing that happens in our country affects the world. See how every little squabble and grievance that we force upon our leaders and our society, whatever the source, strains the system and prevents the most important of goals from being achieved. I have long believed that, to some degree, there is far too much ‘freedom’ in America – that it could and should be lessened to some degree so that the goals set forth by our founders (LIFE, that beyond the meager existence and breath of an individual, LIBERTY, though not constituting complete freedom, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS, without the abridgement of others’ ‘truths that are self-evident) may be realized and appreciated by all.

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