Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Hypocritical Oath

My wife and I were musing last night that it hardly seems like yesterday since the grand Millennium celebrations were rocking the world, and yet its ten whole years. My youngest daughter is ten years old and she marks the passage of time in the 21st century. This got me thinking about the world as it exists at the moment and how I feel about it and I realised that for the first time in my life I am reluctant to be a participant in many things and have started to withdraw. Thats not a natural state for me, but I reflected that its because of the emergence of five sorts of people and the almost constant haze of shite that they generate. Who are these people?

Haters - Live and Let Live is a wonderful way to exist, but it seems to have disappeared into the aether nowadays. Its much easier to hate something now and to be exceptionally vocal about it. Not things that matter, like racism or homophobia, but totally inconsequential things like a series of books, a comics storyline, a record, a sport, a TV personality, a foodstuff, a TV show, a word, a website, a hobby, a game etc. I'll raise my hand and say that I have, in my time, been one of these people, specifically towards Brian Micheal Bendis and his effect on the Avengers comic book line. Seething, vitriolic hatred permeates our society now like a virus.

Hyper-critics - different from the haters, are the hypercritics. I have noticed an increased level of nit-picking and general moaning about the quality of entertainment over the last few years. Moreover, a number of these decisions on the quality of films, books, comics etc. are made sight-unseen. They are based off a rumour, a trailer or just the idea of the piece. Moreover, the more people who are likely to like something, the more the hyper-critics are looking to find a way to shoot it up. Blow it out of the sky. Take it down a peg or two. Of course, if you disagree with them, you are beset by other hyper-critics and more than a few haters to the point where its becoming increasingly difficult to actually like something publicly without courting disaster.

Political Fantasists - We live in a world of political fantasy. In this world, politicians are good, selfless people who have cast aside any ideas of self-promotion or advancement and instead taken to a life in under the public microscope, doing their very best for the people and not asking for a jot in return. Upon completing this service, they will disappear into the aether and never be heard of again. Every decision made by these puritan politicians will naturally suit everyone and no-one will be disadvantaged or disconcerted by anything. Only in this world will the political system be pure and unsullied and *shudder* democratic. Of course, this is the fantasy and about as far away from the reality as it can get. I'm not suggesting that some of these are no aspirations that can be aimed at, but some people need to understand that we live in a representative democracy, not a participatory democracy and that politics is a cyclical business. Even I, as a left-wing leaning life-long Labour supporter can see that it is healthy for a change of government however it isn't a tribal thing. Its not a case of winning or losing. Its part of the natural state of things.

Conspiracy Theorists - Nothing ever just 'is' - there always has to be something behind it that we cannot see. Were 'we' means 'you' because the person informing you of the theory has perfect 20/20 vision on the matter and almost supernatural perceptions and insight beyond those of normal man. Wars, terrorism, climate change, politics, elections - its all been a massive conspiracy theory from Day One it would seem. Lets just consider that the conspiracy theorists are right and say, the US government did cause 9/11? What you gonna do about it? If they are willing and capable to do that, what makes you think you make one piece of a difference? In a world where nothing is as it seems, no-one is willing to be the King wearing the Invisible Clothese in case they make a fool of themselves. No-one will be tricked and therefore when it matters, no-one cares.

'My World' Selfishness - more than anything else, the rise of 'My World' selfishness has caused me to develop an almost violent twitch of anguish. For example, a games company posted that it had released a new service and the very first post that someone replied with said 'sorry, but its too late for my game, we just finished playing.' So what? Should they have pre-empted your needs and produced it earlier? What? Honestly, what was the point of that utterance? The entire doctrine of 'First!' and 'TL;DR' on forums is all about me-me-me! The preponderance of arguments based on 'it doesn't apply to me, therefore it must be false' is ridiculous. Any sense of being part of a larger diverse community seems to have been lost in a mantra of 'don't waste my time with stuff that doesn't concern me!'

Almost all of this has been facilitated by the increased ease of access to information, volume of content and near-anonymous personality brought to us through internet communication. I think when our children look back on this time, the internet will be seen as an innovation and indeed, a revolution on the same scale as the industrial revolution of the 19th century - and indeed like that revolution it has got some unintended pollution attached to it.

So, before anyone reading this says 'hang on Neil? Aren't you legendary for your ranting and raving about things? Haven't you bored us to tears with your diatribes about the undue influence of the media on the world and its thinking? Don't you tick just about every box on this list?' I will 'fess up and say 'Yes'. And thats the point of this post.

Its time for it to stop or I am just going to become an angry old man. So, this year, I am going to make a concerted effort to excuse myself from that seething, teeth-grinding anger. I'm not going to be a hater or a critic. I'm going to realise that rarely can debates be won or lost - nowadays its more like a case of First World War trench warfare. I'm going to enjoy the world on my own terms and well, sod everyone else. Too much energy lost and too many distractions caused by the people that wind me up. In my 39th year, its time to just chill out a little.


Fandomlife said...

You know what I tend to find, and I'll freely admit it doesn't have to transpire the same way for everyone, that when dealing with humanity en masse your post rings true. Say via the Internet or some other medium that looks at them as a 'anonymous group through which supposed individuals raise their heads'. Such as a newspaper comments page, radio call ins, etc.

But I've universally found when dealing with people face-to-face as individuals or in small or groups of varying sizes, even quite large ones, the experience is very different.

What I think is happening is the number of 'sort of anonymous en masse' mediums and outlets is increasing.

It is also true that recessions bring this out, but just like there is many negatives, there is also many stories of say workers making decisions to keep companies afloat, or the amazing question time with teenagers in the audience (or when it actuall had five people of weight on and a real and interesting discussion took place).

But then, I've not been someone who rants and raves, because I've always realised the amorphous mass is often negative, but whenever I deal with people and groups during stressful change I've rarely found it to be true.

I suppose I'm bottle half full, if I wasn't I'd fail at my job.

Fandomlife said...

So, to add something onto the bottom, I realised the key thing to do is moderate those inputs.

I know I could see things biting around the edges of me demeanour as I've started to read more broadsheet news papers and watch the news more.

Overall it's a good thing, but you can't let it suck you into its miasma of shit.

redben said...

I was thinking 'internet' long before I got the last few paragraphs. The internet offers pure, unadulterated democracy (in the truest sense of the word) with no reprecussions.

The anonymity offered by the internet, and forums in particular, means half-arsed opinions that would usually be kept to yourself can find free expression.

I'm always fighting a battle with myself not to come across as a curmudgeonly Newsnight Review critic.


Vodkashok said...

There are a load more people who could have made that list. The first being Complainers; the ever-growing group of people who think that they have a blessed existence where they should never be offended even in the slightest and that their complaints should be taken with deadly seriousness. The others are the Different AND Superior; I have had quite enough rammed down my throat about how we are all mindless drones for enjoying Christmas or 'bowing to the tedium of an arbitary, artificial time measuring mechanism' (ie. New Year). Yeah, you clever arses, get over yourselves!

You are both absolutely correct - the anonymous and immediate nature of the internet allows people to spray their bile and ignorance far and wide with a few strokes of the key. The increased clamour for interactivity within society, as Ian pointed out, has also contributed to this.

I find it quite sad, in a sorrowful emotion way, rather than a 'I pity you fools' way.