Thursday, December 19, 2013

What Really Matters

Since the beginning of September, I've written 12 posts.  I used to write almost twice that in a week.  What's been going on?

First of all, life.  Since our move, our lives have become busier and more complicated.  You reassess priorities, and stuff that was important suddenly becomes less so.  Not that I don't enjoy writing and blogging; quite the opposite.  I miss it.  I also have other things that need doing, and so I continue to miss it so other things can get done.

With this priority shuffling comes the chance for reflection.  This autumn I also returned to Twitter, although in a more perfunctory way.  I rarely "Tweet" anything of my own, retweeting things others have shared, or leaving an appreciative comment.  While celebrity tweeting seems to be the big thing, the folks I follow most closely on Twitter comment on issues of race, gender, sexuality, and class, yet somehow manage to get the point across in 140 characters.  Some of them are quite amusing.  Unlike blogging or other forms of longer-form writing, there is an art to the good tweet, and I would rather share those that have mastered it than demonstrate my own incompetence at this particular form.

Yet, there is more to it than that.  Reflecting on my Twitter reticence and decrease in blogging, I have come to the conclusion that I, personally, am just no longer interested in what I have to say.  The explosion of the internet over the past decade, the democratization of communication and commentary thanks to social media, and the ever-higher wall elite commentary builds around itself all lend themselves to the odd phenomenon that, despite having the world quite literally at our eyeballs at the touch of a few buttons, there are fewer things of importance about which to write, and far too many people writing about them.  The noise-level in our public discourse is deafening, not least because at least some among my fellow Americans believe that volume equals both competence and a public following.  Personally, I prefer the simple declarative mode; if you like it, come on along, but if not, that's OK, too.  Far too many think it is necessary to TYPE LIKE THEY ARE SHOUTING IN ORDER TO MAKE SURE NO ONE CAN HEAR ANYTHING ELSE AND ALSO FOOL SOME FOLKS IN TO THINKING THEY HAVE ARE PART OF SOME LARGER SOCIAL OR POLITICAL FORCE.  Despite everything, the all-caps brigade continue unabated.

I've never wanted to be yet another voice shouting in the wilderness.  Now, the wilderness is far too crowded, and there are fewer things about which to write.  Take the past week, for instance: there's the report from the President's commission on the NSA; there's the surprise release of a new, pro-feminist album from Beyonce; one of the cast of Duck Dynasty was suspended after making some pretty awful anti-gay remarks; for some reason, Megyn Kelly of FOXNews insisted that a fictional character and Galilean Jew who lived 2,000 years ago are both white.  There's the nonsense over the website.  Every time Ted Cruz opens his mouth, news outlets race to put it in print and on the internet.

In the middle of all this, Pres. Obama gives a speech in which he says that rising inequality is the greatest challenge of our time.  The top 10% of income-earners in this country manage to rake in 42% of total incomes.  This has happened even as homelessness has risen; those depending upon food banks and other private support has exploded; there are 46 million Americans on Food Stamps, most of whom work either part time of full time.  For a socialist, Barack Obama is a pretty good oligarchical capitalist.  The real danger to our Republic isn't some fake businessman who wears a beard and spouts bigotry to make a buck from conservatives all too willing to fling money at people who say crap like he does.  Whether or not Beyonce is a "real" feminist isn't really all that important in the long run (although I'll grant the point that even raising the question masks persistent racism among some white feminists).  Beyond revealing her own racial blinkers, Megyn Kelly's nonsense is meaningless because, well . . . Santa doesn't exist and Jesus couldn't have been "white" in any way that makes sense.

None of this solves the problems of increasingly bad working conditions for too many Americans; corporations supporting their employment practices with public assistance in order to keep wages depressed and increase profits; a concentration of wealth in the United States that hasn't been seen since just before the Great Depression.  These are all things that are the result of deliberate policy choices of our government.  They are all things that can change, and should be changed in order for our country to remain politically stable as well as socially stable and economically vibrant.  They are things that are not going to change because interested parties have far too much invested in the status quo, despite its increasing untenability, to support even modest change.

People are far more interested in acting the church lady over Miley Cyrus or whining because a guy who pretends to look like a redneck says a redneck thing and then gets pulled from his fake show because he violated the terms of his contract than they are, say, in the fact that over a million Americans are going to lose their unemployment benefits next week.  Combined with a feeling that I just am not all that interested in what I have to say; my own preference for the work of others; and a very busy, different life than I've experienced before, my own blogging is going to continue to be sparse, at best.  There are things that matter, and concentrating on the those things has made the whole project of public commentary questionable.

Virtual Tin Cup

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