Wednesday, August 14, 2013



toon-1394It is my belief that one of the greatest obstacles to informed discourse of how we live—or should live—is distraction rather than outright lies.

True, we are exposed to a seemingly endless stream of lies about every facet of our existence—from the quality of the food we eat (highly suspect) to our national prosperity (in serious trouble)—but the really dangerous elements in the propaganda that we are subject to from birth to death are best described as distractions. After all, what better way to stop people thinking and to make them malleable.

Here, I don’t want to overestimate the propensity of people to think critically—the evidence is not encouraging—but to make the point that deliberate, contrived distraction plays a much greater role in our lives than most of us are willing to admit. We delude ourselves that, of course we think about the issues—and make intelligent judgments—but the evidence does not support that conclusion. Essentially, we work, we slump, and we sleep—and, of course, we medicate to excess (much easier than thinking).

Such is the reality of human nature. We are a worthy species in many ways, but deeply flawed. We lie, we steal, we cheat, we kill—but, above all, we delude ourselves. Intellectual rigor is not our strong point. Instead, we cling to our prejudices and our comfort zones—virtually regardless of the evidence. And we are also hypocrites to an extent that is hard to over-state.

  • We despise Congress but vote in the same corrupt members again and again.
  • We preach fair play and democracy, but tolerate gerrymandering and the denial of the vote to many.
  • A majority of us call ourselves Christian, yet show remarkably little social concern compared to the populations of the rest of the Developed World. Indeed, we seem quite content to cultivate an ever increasing sub-class, to tolerate nearly 50 million people on food stamps, and to treat the unemployed with contempt (bear in mind that not only is unemployment pay minimal, but, for various technical reasons, only about half who are eligible actually receive it).

All in all, such a mindset has made me regard the Social Media with great skepticism. They are, without question, both distracting and time-consuming. They flatter your ego—encouraging your narcissist side—and their motives are rarely yours.

And yet…

The jury is out as far as I am concerned. Possibly, far out. Nonetheless, I confess a weakness for LinkedIn—which seems to be of practical benefit—and for such book oriented sites as Goodreads and AuthorsDen.

But the core issue is distraction. Some of these peripheral activities may have merit, but the core issue is the writing itself. Such absolutely has to be one’s primary focus.







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