Sad Day For Social Media

Today the world teeters on the brink of a serious international intervention in the wake of chemical weapons incident, killing thousands of innocent civilians in Damascus.

Thousands of Filipinos are taking to the street to protest systemic corruption.

Egypt remains in chaos.

Greece, Italy and Portugal are in economic tatters.  Sub-Saharan Africa remains under nourished and over-represented in infant mortality, poor maternal health and serious sexual and social inequity.

The US still can’t agree on gun control or core social issues internally, and have hundreds of thousands of their hard working middle class citizens tossed out on the street while banking organizations would rather see houses sit empty than organize some way to get the masses of homeless into the masses of empty houses since the sub-prime mortgage disaster.

And guess what is all over my newsfeed and even my Twitter account (despite the fact I try desperately to only follow engaged and enlightened people and entities)?

Miley Cyrus and a Kardashian baby.

Seriously guys.  W.T.F?

I’m the proud owner of a communication undergrad and have had a life long fascination with the human condition and our social and psychological leanings, so I “understand” the intrigue regarding celebrity culture and the spectrum of mild voyeuristic interest through to very dangerous and destructive Celebrity Worship Syndrome.

We look up to these people who we don’t know because they seem to have everything we desire.  They appear to have: money, beauty, fame, credibility, respect and talent.

So we watch from the edge of our seats as their stories unfold and wait with baited breath for them to be involved in some scandal or to fall from grace and society eagerly laps up he aftermath of some morally dubious reporter airing their dirty laundry.

What genuinely confounds me though, is how people find the time to involve themselves in this.

Yesterday, while the MTV awards were airing, I was ensconced in a conversation with my 6-year-old daughter in the back of our people mover as we drove up the North Island on our way back to Auckland from a weekend at the snow.  I was even multi-tasking and managed to nurse a serious argument with my husband and stay abreast of happenings on social media using my smart-phone as we drove the nearly 5 hour journey.  It was pretty awesome.  And I’m still fighting with Grumpy, and also still pondering some of the wisdom gleaned from my daughter.

What confounds me about what is unfolding as I write this little blog – is the nearly total whitewash some trashy child star can have over social and traditional media – and the reason I don’t understand it, is because we have to react and actively show interest for the event to become newsworthy.

Why do so many people perk their ears up and take the time to gawk at this, when there are serious social, political, environmental and economic incidents unfolding in our own back yards and all over the planet?  And we shy away from this stuff.  Is it too hard?  Too painful?  Too confronting?  Are the issues to big and scary for us to want to stay abreast of and show concern for?

So why is it so easy for our society to all get on board with something so petty and pathetic?

I am pleased to report that I still have not seen the performance that stole the scandalous spotlight at this year’s MTV VMAs.

Every year there is something.  My personal favourite was the “Ima let you finish” moment between Kanye West and Taylor Swift.  Two human beings I can safely say I have absolutely no interest in (and to be honest, little or no respect for) whatsoever, but wow, that was some genuinely funny stuff right there.  I admit to still using the line on occasion, even though it has long fizzled out of pop culture favour.

So what I’d like to know is;  how do so many people who I actually hold in high regard spend their precious time on this stuff.  I know beautiful, engaging, intelligent and educated women with families and jobs how can rattle off the names of all of the “Real Housewives” and follow the Kardashian train-wreck with an almost religious ferver.

The time it takes to stay abreast of this stuff could be used to read interesting and confronting articles on world events in the New York Times or Huffington Post.  They are always a good easy read, and generally not too heavy or weighed down in academic jargon. Even I can get through an article in the Post or Times without too much effort.  In the time people dedicate to watching cringe-inducing reality television, people could be nurturing relationships IRL…

Wait.  I think I may have answered my own questions.

While these incidents play out, there are real time conversations and blow-by blow accounts all over twitter and other social media platforms.

People feel connected, they have a laugh at someone else’s expense and get to escape their own daily grind for a while.  We engage in a good healthy dose of shadenfreude while the world around us falls to pieces and our own lives can seem painful, overwhelming or unfulfilling.

So my only question is this:

Can you IMAGINE a world where everyone gets on board and in line and equally engaged in things that actually affect humanity?

That would be pretty fucking amazing.

Have a good week everyone.

Thanks for reading.


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