Awww, really? Pass the butter, please.

2 Aug

I’ve been having a(n) useless discussion with myself, now sliding into the 0700 hour on a rainy, grey Sunday as both my girls still crank out some much-needed Zs, about the quickly disappearing ability to empathize. For the younger generation, the kids moving into their teenage timelines, the last few years of their lives severely carved and re-chiseled and sliced yet again by Twitter and Facebook and IMs and “smart phones,” exponential self-awareness and narcissism may have wrestled away self-analysis, which may very well have eroded empathy, if not rendered it extinct altogether.

But I’m more interested in my own lack of this, one of the more important emotions dished out by the Superconscious. Admittedly, I’ve never been fond of people in general and so a strong case for apathy or lack of care for my fellow homo sapiens can be made. However, paradoxically I’m quite social (especially during work hours), and at times of long absences from “the public” or self-induced isolation, I do feel the need to interact. But always on limited terms; usually ones that scratch at or reach toward a more enriching experience (although anything political has quickly taken a back seat and, in fact, has been slated as a discussion topic only with my other half whom I fully trust in all directions).

The incessant bombardment of outlandish entertainment and information over the last fifteen years (I point to MTV’s breakthrough first season of “The Real World New York” in 1992 as having started this escalating waterfall of mostly polluted water) has eroded my trust in basically anything that is being processed and presented via television, Internet, meme, email, smoke signals, or any other form of communication.

Trusting very little of what I see around me, or what I hear in conversation, has corroded my ability to empathize. At times I’ve analyzed whether or not this has robbed me just a little (or a lot) of my humanity, but in the end I choose not to beat myself up too violently. Lack of empathy has not transformed me into an angry, curmudgeonly cyclops; it’s just merely made me leery. It has me on my toes, trying to stay sharp at all times. It has me constantly cross-checking information, seeking out other sides of the coin, investigating. It sounds like much commotion for just going about one’s normal, daily, life, but I like the constant search for truth. The few times it gets over-bearing or too burdensome, I just disconnect the machinery and place the event in question up on the “UFO Abduction” shelf either for later investigation or just simple abandonment. And then go and cleanse myself with a hefty helping of Charles Mingus.

What I’m offering here is not so much an excuse but rather the short analysis of a by-product of (or a reaction against) a constant barrage of advertising–whether from corporations or acquaintances. As a leery, cautious, skeptical person to begin with, pronouncements and announcements from friends and foes alike, living their lives in the ether, come through to me as versions of ten or fifteen-second spots. It’s hard to empathize–at least instantaneously–when the baseline for processing information is skepticism. But I am the monster-product of the 21st century; the Age of Communication.

And I’m not ashamed of that at all.

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5 Responses to “Awww, really? Pass the butter, please.”

  1. anna antic 03/08/2010 at 1:07 PM #

    I have a lot to say after reading this. Just gotta figure out how to “package” it.

    I will say this now, though: I remember the first season of “The Real World” and I loved it. I still do. Back then it seemed a more genuine look at seven young(er) adults, with careers and aspirations, crammed into a smallish space and butting heads in a more genuine and believable way. After a while/a couple of seasons I think MTV realized that footage of people growing up is boring in comparison to footage of 19 year-olds getting drunk and hooking up. And that’s where it all went to shit.

  2. Lx 03/08/2010 at 1:21 PM #

    The 1st season, NY, was a great, true experiment. But that was the impetus for the Pucks and The Situations to come along, now 18 years and going strong. I truly dug that guy Kevin, from 1st season NYC…he went on to become a pretty well-respected music writer. I think he did a stint at Rolling Stone initially.

  3. vibes01 03/08/2010 at 1:49 PM #

    just reading your stuff and looking at the visual things you post, says to me that you are an incredibly empathic person…perhaps too much – which has made you protect that part of you for fear of being overwhelmed

    just my impression…probably way off

  4. anna antic 03/08/2010 at 10:06 PM #

    Kevin Powell tried to run for Congress in NY and is an anti-violence against women activist. So dude clearly took his 15 minutes and made them into something useful.

  5. Lx 04/08/2010 at 5:52 AM #

    And on an even more interesting side note: the “Rocker” guy, Andre, pretty much chose to drop out from public scrutiny as soon as the series aired in ’92. I’m sure someone could track him down especially nowadays, but overall he just “disappeared” when the series aired and refused all interviews, reunions, etc. Kind of prescient of him. Hats off.

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