Sunday, June 12, 2016

161. National Hapiness

I can’t remember too many times in the recent past when the news cycle has made me happy, proud, or joyful. News cycles now play out at light speed. The Orlando shooting already feels like it was last week, when it wasn’t even 24 hours ago. There’s the news, the analysis, the counter-analysis, the backlash, the counter-backlash, the mean tweets, the arguments, the “politicizing”, and we don’t even have all the names of the dead yet.

Is there such a thing as national joy anymore? I think we’ve been split up into our tribes and sects for marketing purposes, and we’ve realized that there is no real incentive to get out of them and mingle with other people. We know what we like and what we believe and everyone else can go screw themselves. I gotta say, it’s effective.  

It feels like when something good happens at a national level, there’s already a screaming chorus all over our media ready to rain on the parade. Maybe that’s always been the case, but those people now have access to a bigger soapbox. They also are probably now better organized. There are groups ready to go with targeted messages when something happens that they don’t like.

I’m trying to think of the last few national news items that have made me happy. There was the legalization of gay marriage, the flyby of Pluto, the USWNT wins. The passing of both Prince and Muhammad Ali was sad, but I enjoyed reading and seeing the tributes to both artists. I guess the continuing success of “Hamilton” has been very nice. But we don’t have moments of national wonder and joy like for the moon landing or the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. (Seeing how I wasn’t alive for one of those things, and barely a year old for the other, someone who experienced both of those things can correct me.)

I want to be idealistic. I want the system to work. I want to be proud of this country. I see lots of good things every day, but they’re mostly on small local levels. Not to discount those things, they are important, but it seems that the news cycle is always filled with darker things that cause me to throw my hands up.

It’s so easy to “blame the media” or “the politicians.” And that’s fine, they do deserve a piece of the blame, but not all of it. Someone had to vote them in, and someone’s still watching/listening/reading/clicking on the junk that fuels all this crap.

Maybe the best thing to do is to just step out of a news cycle every once in awhile. Don’t contribute to those things that fuel the cynicism, the rage, and the hate. Step away from the keyboard and do something different. We’ve been led to believe that everything not in line with our interests is awful. It’s something to get worked up and tweet about. Don’t do that.

Spread love. Go to gatherings. Take that urge to tweet and pick up some garbage. Do something that can contribute to the national happiness, not take away from it.  

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