Game of Thrones says that Winter is Coming. I say it is already in full swing. As a society, as a world, we have lived in a long period of relative calm. We have grown as people and built many, many modern conveniences, that both simplify and enrich our lives. From the foods we eat to the technology we use for nearly every aspect of our lives, we have grown. I believe that we have reached the end though. We have made our way into a time where our technology as it stands and its further advancement have stopped enriching our lives and started making us feel entitled.
With all of this technology and the communal intelligence gained from it we have become lazy. Far too lazy. We take for granted what technology has to offer. Think of all of the benefits of some of our modern conveniences. The internet is the most glaring example for me. We could use it to find endless amounts of information to enrich our lives and to connect with endless amounts of people with similar thoughts. But how do we really use it?
I’m going to use video games as a reference because I’m a gamer and because I also think it happens to be a surprisingly good analogy. Every year a new football game comes out. There’s always some new features offered along with the obligatory updated rosters. Every few years the games might receive a total overhaul. Possibly. This usually only occurs if some small developer comes along and causes enough of a stir with their new innovations or ideas. Otherwise, it is the same old game offered with shiny new packaging and a brand new price tag. Those games have stopped focusing on creating quality product and settled on giving the bare minimum people will stand for. And don’t we stand for and put up with a lot?
It’s now acceptable for people to pay actual money, PAY MONEY, to help beta test a video game. We used to pay money and receive a completed product. It switched to paying for an almost completely finished product with a little bit of downloadable content to fill in the holes to then getting a barely finished product with regular downloadable content that we are now charged for. Now the expectation has changed to paying for something that doesn’t even exist yet. Developers have become too something (lazy, greedy, untalented?) to put out a finished product. The emphasis has shifted from putting something good out there, to just getting something, anything really, out to the masses.
I draw a lot of parallels between those developers and society as a whole. We have all become entitled and lazy. Don’t we feel we should have whatever we want? That all of our opinions matter and need to be voiced to the masses, no matter how rude or offensive that opinion might be? Before everyone felt the need to voice their every thought and the relative ease of doing so, people used to have decorum. If I went to a concert I didn’t like, I wouldn’t call up the band and spew vicious, hateful things at them. No, instead I would tell my friends about my bad experience and never buy a ticket to one of their events again. We used to let our inaction speak for us. Now it feels the world is a place of anonymous inactive action.
How easy it is for me to bare my soul to you through black and white words, because no matter how many people ultimately end up reading my thoughts, I will only ever talk with a few about it. Well maybe just one person… It’s freeing. But with that freedom comes responsibility. Just because I am ABLE to say what it is I believe, does not necessarily mean that I SHOULD share it with the world.
Just because I had a bad experience with a large fast food chain, does that entitle me to spew negativity? For what purpose does it serve? Is it likely that particular fast food chain will read my comments and choose to do something? Not likely at all. So again I ask, what does throwing my negativity around accomplish? Have I changed the situation? Not really. Unless further incensing other people in a similar situation constitutes change. But isn’t that just being negative just to cause more negativity? What comes from further spreading hate?
A point could be made that throwing thoughts out, even the negative ones, allows us to connect with people of like mind. To that I ask, what do we do with that connection? Do we band together to bring about change? No! Instead we throw our opinions so we can clash with someone. Anyone. It seems like the general consensus is that negative attention is just as good as positive. That simply being heard and getting any type of response far surpasses getting something tangible from it. We just want to feel like we are being heard. Isn’t this similar to a child throwing a tantrum?
Anger and hatred are the easiest routes to provoke strong emotions in others and by extension the easiest route to get attention from someone else. We have become a society that always looks to take the easy route so I can understand why so much negativity exists. We provoke emotion but then fail to channel it into something productive. Think of some recent headlines that have affected us all, something that drew lots of attention and possibly even an outcry for change. What ever came of it? I’ll bet in the end all it amounted to was countless people typing in capital letters about the injustice of it all to go along with a generous helping of “catchy” memes to show support. All these people agreeing on the same thing, all “shouting” about how change needs to happen but offering no concrete ideas to bring it about.
A friend of mine just recently posted something about bringing pets indoors when it is so cold outside. I applaud her and her approach. She let people know how she felt about an issue without casting any judgments and even offered a solution to the problem in her own way. That is amazing. No one was hurt or offended and change and/or help is possible and being offered. Kudos to her!
It used to be only the brightest, most creative, or loudest voices were heard. With the ease that technology has given us, every voice has now been given a microphone, even ones who are not in tune with reality. With all these voices, the truth is getting lost in the cacophony. It’s probably why the movies, television, music, art, news, scientific advancements are by and large less impressive than previous generations. We aren’t focusing on the best and most promising anymore, instead we are left sifting through the garbage trying to find something salvageable.
So exactly what truth is being lost? I believe the truth about everything and anything is being lost in all this noise. As a collective, we no longer look to find out the whole story. We don’t even wait to find out all the facts before we speak on something. Instead we take overgeneralized bullet points pasted on top of catchy images and run with that as fact. Most times we don’t even verify where that information came from, falling back to the “I saw it on the ‘Net so it must be right” excuse. Remember, we are all entitled to our opinions but just because I put it out there doesn’t mean I am right. And even if you think I am right, it certainly doesn’t make my opinion a fact.
I wish we could return to a time when we only spoke up when we had a great idea or something positive to offer or were actually ready to do something to bring about change. Otherwise, what is the point?
For me, my answer is this: Winter has come, I will continue to wade through the cold and uncaring cacophony that is always swirling about and try to find warmth in it. Because I believe enough attention has been given to the negative. It is time for a return to giving attention to the good thoughts and ideas. Let’s ignore the bad and come together in a positive way to bring about positive changes.