A Different Drummer

 There’s so much digital information to sift through our senses these days: bits and bytes of self-indulgent bombast, frivolity, foolishness, not to mention banality. iPhones, iPads, androids, tablets, kindles. We have the whole world in our hands. Movies, TV, streaming video, podcasts, twitters, text, and social media offer a lot of instant gratification choices; and like fast-food, most of it is empty calorie consumption, in this case, of commercial pop culture trash.  It’s an extensive menu of digitally digestible distractions! More and more information, data, content, programming every day, and there’s no shortage of consumers. Who cares if it’s a short attention span form of gratification? Life is a roller coaster of ups and downs, or even some corkscrew turns and a few inverted loops, a bump & grind, a journey that requires endurance, faith, and some luck that, we hope more often than not, is of the fortunate kind. We try to make our personal slice of life as pleasurable as  possible, or at least palatable and manageable.  It’s a full-time job, this mortal coil, this veil of tears. Lots of stress. Praise the lord and pass the Xanex, or the Wild Turkey 101. Or immerse yourself in the phantasmagoria of digitalia.  Like the boob tube, it has a hypnotic effect on its users. And, somewhere in its endless inventory of opinions, attitudes, beliefs and behavior may lie what we’re looking for. Which is?  Well? We’re looking for, uh, maybe the next cat video or singing sensation. We’re drawn to an electronic screen of one size or another like moths to a flame. But, as we sit in front of computer screens, flat-screens, laptops, or handhelds, and do so quite extensively at times, are we learning anything of real value? Does mass/social media, and all its content offer us any penetrating insights, piercing observations, or maybe an immortal truth or two? Does it reveal the different drummer that can lead the way to such revelations, to whatever the hell motivates such addictive consumption? Is there any actual substance to all that style?  Highly subjective, I suppose. One man’s ceiling is another lady’s floor…

Regardless, based on my student’s seeming attention deficits due to the digital moth-glow, lots of folk need to unplug. Decompress. Sit in the park and contemplate nature.  In doing so, we can connect with ourselves and the tangible, physical world of reality. We can clear our heads from the grip of pervasive electronic messaging, advertising, distractions. What a notion! Connect with reality. Get real, baby!  Stop and smell a real rose,in the very real world,  listen and think about what is happening behind the surface glitter and flash of all the digital razzle dazzle. Well, to do so requires reading, listening, thinking, prompted by one source or another, print or electronic. You can still have your indulgences, but it would be worth your while to forego the digital fast empty calories for some real nutritious food-for-thought. You’ve been distracted for long enough, and may be in peril. Whether you realize it or not, the future is at stake, and you need to be fully awake. Do some heavy lifting long enough to become an informed consumer.  Oh, I know you don’t have that kind of gumption, but you’ll wish you did if the worst-case-scenario becomes business-as-usual. There’s an important election in November. Do you plan to vote? Plan on making your voice heard?  The voting booth holds enormous power. The fewer people who vote means that a smaller and smaller share of the electorate get to decide your political fate.

What kind of future do you prefer? Well in previous blogs I have written (ranted?) about things such as the Koch Brothers, the Tea Party, the neo-con types in congress, or occupying governor’s mansions, and certainly the corporate media that serves all these nefarious entities quite well. Too much to process? Just me rabble-rousing? Exaggeration? Agitation? Sour grapes? Whatever, but don’t you want to check it out for yourself?  I do pay close attention and this is what I see: a public that has become lazy and stupid when it comes to making important choices, especially ones that emanate from a voting booth. One man, one vote. We the People. Constitutional protections. With liberty and justice for all, blah blah. Yeah, right? In theory anyway; but I’ve lived long enough to witness journalistic principles abandoned to the dictates of military adventure in two needless Persian Gulf invasions, a post 911 national policy of fear mongering & intrusiveness, and two documented, corrupted presidential elections.  Money, power,  divide and conquer politics are destroying our democracy. Thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, money is free speech and corporations are “people”! Super Pacs can assert monetary power to literally buy an election.  Airways get flooded with ad hominem vitriol disguised as discourse.  The radical Right has gotten a foothold in government and their agenda is disingenuous and vile in its objectives. We’re becoming a plutocracy. Since the 2010 mid-term elections, the middle and lower classes have been exploited and scapecoated, even teachers,police and firefighters!   

However, the Occupy movement and it’s 99-1 mantra is trying to fight back.  Maybe it’s 98-2, or at best 97-3, but the vast majority of Americans are working class mopes, not financially independent. And in spite of the recent Wall St. malfeasance that cost many families their future, many of the working class appear to be asleep at the wheel, and headed for a cliff: recent polls (scientific number crunching, mind you) indicate how clueless many people are about what’s going on in the political arena. 

What’s your idea of a rosy future?  Want all unions dissolved? Want your job shipped overseas? Want your public school system to be privatized? Want Social Security and Medicare privatized? Want environmental regulations gutted? Want corporations to set policy on just about every aspect of life? Want your taxes to go up while the mega-rich have theirs go down? Want the government to control a woman’s reproductive right? Want social programs eliminated? No safety nets?

Well, then vote republican!

But if republican economic power politics serves, at best, only about 2-3% of the electorate, what is there to worry about? Well, “lazy & stupid” is alive and well. If not, then how can the polls show Romney in a virtual tie with Obama? Not that Obama has lived up to his “change” mantra. But he isn’t going to rubber-stamp the blatant corporatocracy agenda of the neo-cons. Who are these “average” folk who, though average income types, support a slash and burn monetary policy that wants to provide for the wealthy at the expense of everyone else? It must be that lazy & stupid clan. That gullible, short-sighted, easily manipulated clan.: Is the fact that a woman can get a legal abortion driving them nuts? Vote republican. Is the possibility of two men or two women marrying one another drive them bat-shit? Vote republican. Do those signs in the stores written in Spanish make them resentful? Vote republican.  Does medical science’s desire to use embryonic stem cells for disease-curing research equal abortion and make them want to man their NRA approved assault weapons? Well, they can support the republicans, and when they die of liver cancer, feel satisfied that they protected that embryonic cell with their own lives. Lazy & stupid. They can support policies that will almost certainly make their quality of life worse in the years to come.  But they vote their  conscience, and their financial and physical health be damned, and that goes for the environment, too!  And when the plutocrats have control of it all, we’ll all really going to need an escape from reality when that different drummer leads us in a race to the bottom of a deep, dark hole. Your ever-more monopolistic telecommunications company will have you paying non-negotiable, exorbitant rates that’ll make you nostolgic for what you’re being gouged for today; but given the depths to which you’ll have descended, the reception figures to be really bad as you surf the Net for an explanation…for some truth….

About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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