Roxanne Tellier: Think For Yourself

Roxanne DBAWISIf there was one good thing about being without power for three days during the recent ice storm, it was discovering that it is indeed possible to live without the endless bombardment wind-up-radioof email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, television and the like. With my trusty wind-up radio by my side, I kept up with what was important – my imminent salvation from the cold and dark. For a few days, I actually interacted with my family, with little more background sound than a news update.

coldanddarkIt wasn’t that bad. I did learn that my need to interact one-on-one with others was fairly low, but I didn’t die from not being in constant touch with the rest of the world. I read a few books, cuddled with the cats, and stared dreamily out of the window. I wasn’t as mentally stimulated as I am normally, but hunger, cold and the dark were bigger priorities.

I was actually relieved to have time to just relax, unencumbered by deadlines, requests, details, petitions, surveys, or pictures of ‘kittehs.’ I love having the whole world at my Sharing-Too-Much-Information-On-Social-Networksfingertips, thanks to the Internet. But sometimes, it’s all too much. Too much shouting, too many petitions, too much “look at me!,’ too many selfies, too many demands to prop up other peoples sense of identity and self-worth, too many indignities that must be addressed.

I’m a big ‘sharer’ as well. Every now and then I cut myself back on the sharing of memes and histrionic headlines, just put myself on a mental diet, so to speak. But there’s only so much I can take before I fall back into the trap of pushing forward my own beliefs and outrages, and support of those of a similar bent.

This week alone, I raged about Mayor Rob Ford, the Sochi Olympics, Justin Bieber’s continuing decline, Shia LaBoeuf’s blatant and unrepentant plagiarism, Neil Young’s oil sands tour, the NRA, income equality, and non-recyclable single cup coffee packaging. And that was a slow week!

dont-follow-me-signMy reach, however, is nothing as extensive as the blowhards who dominate 24 hour chat and so called news shows on radio and television. Nor am I a household name, with a rabid following. So there’s no need for the NSA, or any other fanatical group, to worry about my blithering.

BUT – multiply my verbosity by the estimated 9.5 million Facebook users, add in all of the misguided souls who believe their music, writing, artistic efforts, and science experiments should be immortalized on YouTube, and multiply that by all of the personal blogs, newspages and entertainment pages. Divide that by the amount of time you realistically think you should be spending on the internet. And now, add a dash of terrestrial television, and a pinch of the little bit of newstalk radio you heard on the way to and from work.

too-much-informationResult: mind = blown. Too much info, much of it conflicting. And all of it loudly proclaiming that it is the only truth.

Now, I get that we’re all busy. Younger people are busily trying to find someone to spend time with (hint: put down the cell phone and look around you.) Middle-aged people are trying to raise families and make ends meet. Older people are wondering how they’ll survive on a crappy pension, and contemplating the benefits of being a greeter at Wal-Mart. I hear, ya. I really do.

enoughTrouble is, this torrent of aggressive, ceaseless information has a strange effect on our brains; we just haven’t evolved enough to process it quickly enough. And while we may have strong opinions or feelings about subjects, trying to fend off the onslaught is difficult, if not impossible.

So, we get cranky. We get impatient. We panic when a web page loads in less than a few seconds, and dissolve into tears when Gmail springs a (security) leak. Rather than a reasoned, calm debate on a subject, it’s more likely that our emails and responses on sitdown shotsfiredsocial media will be knee jerk and angry. Tempers flare, harsh words not normally in our vocabulary somehow find their way out through our fingertips, friendships are violently ripped apart, and, in some cases, physical violence can occur.

“Man shot dead in row over texting in movie theater. A retired policeman in Florida is accused of shooting a man before an afternoon movie started because the man was texting and an argument ensued.”  (Jan. 13, 2014. News.cnet.com)

Worst of all, this endless stream, this diarrhea of content, is likely weighted on the side of entertainment and opinion over truth and facts. And on the tyranny of “the loudest voice in the room” over the honest requests, opinions and queries of those who might actually have something positive to offer.

http://www.upworthy.com/heres-a-5-minute-video-thatll-make-you-rethink-our-entire-news-media-circus-2?c=one1

“Here’s a breakdown of just SOME of the issues going on in this vid: women fighting for the right to drive in Saudi Arabia, farmers fighting for fair wages in Colombia, homophobia and systemic LGBT discrimination in Russia, forced evictions of indigenous peoples in Brazil, police brutality in the U.S., Syrian shelling, as well as the continued protesting for civil rights in Iran and Egypt. … How many of these have you heard about?”

midata-too-much-informationI don’t have an easy solution to stemming the tide of information, nor do I want governments, corporations or internet providers controlling what I can or cannot find online.  For now, the only mechanism that will filter the dross and untruths from our viewing is squee kittehour own minds and common sense, as uncommon as that has become.

Now – I’ve got to get back online. Have you any idea how much I’ve missed while writing this column? I’m down a quart of ‘squeee!’

= RT =

Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS_ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. After years of doing things she didn’t want to do, she’s found herself working with a bunch of crazy people who are as batshit crazy and devoted to music as she is, and so she can be found every Monday at Cherry Cola’s, completely unable to think of anything funny to say, as the co-host of Bob Segarini’s The Bobcast. Come and mock her. She’s good with that. And she laughs. A lot. But not at you.

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