Sometimes I worry that I repeat myself. Sometimes I worry that I act or think too much like my grandparents. I shake this off by considering the repetition of ideas as having a core set of beliefs that I hold, and acting like my grandparents comes from actually listening to them when I was younger and finding that they were kind of savvy about the world. I have typed before about my disgust with the Internet 2.0 Me Me Me stuff. That is not the illness but a symptom. The illness is that we blow everything out of proportion and create conflict and confrontation where none is necessary.
Francis Fukuyama wrote an optimistic book on the possibility that the end of history was upon us as the fall of communism made the world realize that liberal democracy with capitalism guiding the way was the final product of the development of civilization. This thought process had a huge blind spot: non-Western Democracies. Heck, even the end of communism has not removed totalitarianism from Russia. This did leave Western democracies without an external problem or opponent to strive against, to reach for the stars in order to outpace, to let out stress, to work us up against a known entity. We had a reason to try to be the best and take pride in being the best (except for super lib academics who used moral equivalence to say totalitarian communist states were no worse than us & we should understand them, funny how they always side with our enemies). The American Dream was the household version for individuals Americans to buy into. With the fall of communism, we stumbled a bit as the hyperpower or 'last superpower'.
We searched for lame causes to fill this void. Environmentalism went beserk after the fall of communism. We made clean air and water acts which did go after bad gases that truly caused harm, heck in Cleveland a lake of water burned. Things shifted though as scientists aided by the media made us fearful of tangible but faraway things (the rainforests that would disappear by 2010) then the intangible but definitely there (holes in the ozone layer that would be gone by 2010) and then onto carbon dioxide a colorless, odorless gas (which you exhale involuntarily) that is not a pollutant at all but might be related to global warming. Nuclear power was the devil in the late 70s and 80s, but now enviros are rethinking it because it doesn't emit CO2. Seriously, the same people who protested nukes in the '80s will now be the ones pushing for them. Environmentalism is just one example, but you can rotate in whatever you want.
The greatest example of this is ourselves. The Internet has been a fantastic handmaiden to our obsession with ourselves. I do not want to denigrate people who do put in the effort to improve the world for altruistic reasons. They exist today in America. I'm envisioning that Joe American who will slave away at work for the latest status purchase. Jane American who disparages women who choose a stable marriage and family over a big time career, which they mention non-stop in conversation, and then regrets it at age 50 when she is sad and alone. These are the people who cry uncontrollably at Michael Jackson's death or compare the 'struggle' for gay marriage to the work of Gandhi and MLK. Part of this probably comes from the idea that everyone is special being beaten into kids heads.
Facebook has figured out how to take advantage of this the best. You have a portal for all of your memories, your likes, your family, your friends, your social calendar, and of course, a small 100 character outlet for self expression to attract attention. Every single thing of your life gets a spotlight and showcase. Every emotion can be shared, all anger can be vented, all conflict can be blown up to the greatest challenge in the history of the world. The thing that is odd is it's normally not the great, introspective moments that are fleshed out but simple dumb shit.
If the obsession with ourselves was with the pursuit of happiness, realizing our full potential or self discovery, I could applaud this. We'd have a nation full of Tim Learys, not full of 1985 Madonnas. I don't get why people have felt the need to blow everything up in their lives. What I find truly troubling is the fact that people know or feel something is wrong but they do not address the core issue. Why address the problem when I can just argue with everyone over the littlest things, fill my empty physical life up with my virtual life trinkets, and then fill the emotional and spiritual emptiness of my physical life with baubles? This is a very Fight Club way of looking at the world, but without the nihilism. We're only going to fix society at large when we first want to and strive to fix ourselves. We're going to have to confront our family members over bad things we've put each other through, not simple arguments over politics, the environment and entertainment media. It is easy to procrastinate. It is easy with the Internet to get lost in a fantasy world or become eternally distracted. It is not healthy.
The pet political thing you get fired up over today and rant all over your Internet outlets will be your "2 minute hate". Ferociously remembered until the next thing to flame war over pops up. I'm going to give you a hint: it doesn't matter. The universe is pretty indifferent to your petty outbursts. A friend of mine recently did old school hard work to fight against the system trying to force smart meters on the population. It was hard work. Far harder than the 40 character Facebook ejaculation on countless friends pages about "gotta be green" and other dumbass slogans that act as the cover for GE and countless big corps to get you to go green and roll over for their smart meter shakedown. Who wins? Most likely the big corps with their money, connections and the sheeplike bleating from the Facebook-idiots and Twittards. Pick fights with family over the dumbest things you have no control over. They should have learned after the election of Obama that the circus stays the same only the clowns change.
Ultimately, few things you do will have a real impact on the world. Where you can have an impact is with your family, friends, and people you come in contact daily. Live your life to your fullest in the external world. Cherish what you can feel and do. Be mindful of each moment in life. Figure out when conflict and confrontation are needed and where they are frivolous. Remove the BS, identify the BS and do not contribute to the BS (some would argue this entire post is BS). Unplug. Release. Let go. It's a lot easier.