"The world is changing and not for the better."
Each time I encounter some Chicken Little decrying the inevitability of the sky falling, I want to laugh but invariably shake my head in disgust and grab my iPod and my earphones and keep walking.
It's true the economy is in the shitter. Today's major news of the day: Citigroup's shares have dropped below a dollar (hint -- if you thought buying a Buick was a good idea, you should drop a Benjamin and get 100 CG shares and some worthless paper).
What's also true is that global warming is making the polar bear a soon-to-be exhibit among extinct animals in the Museum of Natural History (a good guess is that Ben Stiller will be chilling with them in the third installment of "Night At The Museum").
So where in our daily lives should we place our optimism and our willing suspension of disbelief?
Why not start with this ass-clown? If you're too damn lazy to click the link, the aforementioned derision is directed towards Latreasa Goodman of Fort Pierce, Florida.
You might have seen the story about how Ms. Goodman called 911 three times because McDonald's ran out of chicken McNuggets. Odds are good you saw it, because it was a pretty popular story out here on this InterWeb thing.
Problem is that a lot of these ridiculous, moronic news stories about America's stupidity manage to find themselves on front pages of "news" outlets like CNN.com. In fact, I'd be surprised if half of CNN's daily feed had any real significance to Americans with IQ's near, if not over, 100. Keep in mind that today, the day when Citigroup's shares dropped to below $1, the first item on the CNN.com feed was the announcement by Michael Jackson that he was launching a ten-day goodbye tour.
What the hell?
The problem is far from solely with CNN.com. There are numerous news outlets that have dropped their standards for what -- in theory -- constitutes journalism. I'm not sure if this is a problem that we've created ourselves or if it's just a question of laziness and/or electronic advertising revenue being prioritized by entities feeling pressure along with everyone else.
Essentially, it's as if People Magazine has become the de facto standard by which we have agreed to pursue our news of the world.
Don't get me wrong -- I'm not suggesting that the BBC and The New York Times have dropped their drawers and become another Perez Hilton. The problem is those "in-betweens" -- sites like CNN.com, MSN.com, AOL.com -- have done the same thing that TV news programs -- both local and national -- opted to do thirty years ago. They have opted to provide fluff and filler to retain viewership. Put another way, they've given us the disposable crap to keep people clicking rather than watching them defect to places that serve up gossip and entertainment news.
That, by definition, is how a culture gets dumber and dumber. Rather than maintaining standards, we have accepted a drop in standards rather than attempt to raise and improve said standards. That is -- in a word -- fucked.
I've seen the movie Idiocracy -- twice (says a lot about my intelligence, or lack thereof) -- and I must admit, while some of it seems ridiculous, how far off are we from a world in which Pro Wrestling is more respected than the work done in the bicameral legislature (otherwise known as Congress)? More people watch American Idol than a presidential address (not just Bush but Obama as well) and it seems to me that we as a culture, as a society, have accepted a complete lack of focus in lieu of retention of our values.
In plain English, more people know whether Paula Abdul is heading to rehab than about the second phase of Obama's bailout plan.
To me, this illustrates a significant aspect of why this country has its collective head up its ass. How can we endlessly and hopelessly complain when we don't have the wherewithall to pay attention to how "it" is being fixed, addressed and/or resolved? We're a nation of back-seat drivers; a collection of blind art critics; naysayers without experience or foresight. What we do -- and do best -- is complain without thought to consequence or solution.
It could be I'm just aimlessly bitching and moaning, and it could further be that my overall frustration is that the news is either grim ie the economy or fluff ie the inception of Britney Spears' latest touring Shit-Fest. There's got to be some middle ground, and there -- hopefully -- is room for us to recover from this celebration of stupidity we've heretofore accepted both online and off.
Or perhaps I should just stick my head in the sand along with most everyone else and prepare to learn the Star-Spangled Banner in Spanish.
Hope for the best, expect the worst.
And carry a big stick.