I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me one little bit that of all the things humans could use something as powerful and amazing as the Internet for, we quite often fall into what one might term the sewer.
After all, if you walk into a shiny new high tech grocery store, you’re still bound to find gossip magazines in a rack by the check-out. This is true even if the grocery store is in the most posh section of town.
Have y’all seen some of the headlines on Internet “news” feeds lately? Here’s one: “Friends Told Her To Do Mortifying Thing.” And, just in case the words aren’t graphic enough, it comes with a video.
I don’t want to see someone I don’t even know (or anyone I do know, for that matter), experience a mortifying moment. I mean, really, why would I? That’s something I tend to file under the heading, “TMI”. And yet, I have to acknowledge that probably enough people go for something like that so as to justify having the item available in the first place. Actually, there’s a “watch this dork make an ass of him or herself” kind of video available for your viewing pleasure every week, it seems.
How about this one: “Baby Boomers versus Generation Y. Are their whines justified?” I didn’t “click” on that one, either, but I can tell you with confidence, the answer, in my opinion, is no. Whines are never justified—that is why we call them ‘whines’ instead of ‘concerns’ or ‘challenges’ or ‘issues’.
If neither of those headlines grabs you, how about: “Kid Embarrasses Mom Trying To Get Her Attention.” Yawn. I mean, really? Kids have been embarrassing their moms to get their attention since there have been kids and moms. Move on, folks!
I’m not a snob—I’m really not. But I do guard my intellectual capital somewhat. I tend to want to use it for things that have some redeeming value. If I am going to spend time reading, I want to read something that will either entertain me, or inform me. I want that time I invest to have a purpose and to give me something—knowledge or pleasure—as my return on investment. I read news articles and I read essays on topics that snag my interest and I can promise you that the name Kim Kardashian is nowhere in sight while I do. I am newly hopeful because as I just wrote that last sentence my MS word spell checker put a red squiggly line under the surname.
All is not going to hell in a hand basket after all.
And it’s not that I don’t waste time from time to time, because I can assure you, that I do. I am as capable of being silly or frivolous as the next person. I suppose I just really hate the idea that someone somewhere does something foolish or unfortunate and the next thing you know a video goes up, that video goes viral, and that poor person’s faux pas is there for everyone to see.
Imagine being that person!
We’ve all probably had a dream at least once in our lives, of going somewhere public either in our pyjamas, or underwear, or even naked. We’ve awakened from that dream feeling horrible—embarrassed, maybe sick to our stomachs, and very, very small.
This is, I suppose one of our primal fears, translated to modern times. I think humans have a basic fear of being singled out, inadequate, the slowest, if you will, in the herd. We fear being the one who’s in danger of getting left behind to end up as food for the fast-approaching predator.
You might be laughing at that analogy, but think about it for a moment, and you’ll (hopefully) begin to see my point. And maybe that analysis is the answer to my question of why we give valuable national/international ‘space’ to a video that shows some poor schmuck being humiliated in the first place.
Maybe we do it and watch them because it gives us a false sense of security: as long as it’s happening to someone else, it isn’t happening to us.