Intellectual Laziness

We live in an era of unbridled intellectual laziness. We are infused with the power of reductive simplicty and feeling.

People on the whole seem to have lost all their curiosity to confirm or dig past headlines that feed into their own confirmation biases. I actually saw someone online deduce X because person Y was a jerk, which to them proved that the entire system of belief to which they were “now subscribing” was justified.

That’s tribalism informed by an intellectual vapidity on a level that leaves me breathless. Unfortunately, it seems all too common.

Or possibly I just need to “find my zen.”
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Punk Rock Reason

I am flustered because no one wants to investigate things further than the 10 seconds they need to skim an article. Supposedly trustworthy outlets publish quick-hit articles to capture traffic, and so they don’t care about providing context. People will click on an item, that will bring them ad revenue, and they can worry about the correction later.

People, meanwhile, just remember the first headline or what they skimmed from an article, or what their neighbor shared with their own commentary, and move forward. And if they question, they are an instant pariah.

The very act of saying “I want to know more about this” before pronouncing a sweeping judgment seems a rebel act. Asking for more information is the punk rock of the social media era.

It frustrates me to no end. I don’t know what else I can say about it, to be honest, but I’m going to try with an example.

I had a friend relay to me a story about another person that voiced disappointment with their education because they now looked back on their college classes as insufficient. It was reasoned that, since the school did not assign things of a broad enough spectrum, it had hampered the student’s ability to learn the topic properly.

The problem with this argument, of course, is its presumption. Like training wheels on a bike, school is only supposed to get you established so that you can eventually ride on your own. The fact that this person viewed the completion of his degree requirements as an end point and not a starting point is the very problem.

You are supposed to be intellectually curious. You are supposed to branch out and explore things that challenge you. Otherwise you may as well just read franchise book installments and watch only Marvel™©® movies for the rest of your life.

For what better guide to life is there than a writer’s room?

This version of the scene does speak to me, though.

In Conclusion

I can’t fix it. I can’t change it. But I can rage at the sky that people are so lazy. We have mountains of technological advancement heaped upon us beyond anything within the dreams of the past, creating more free time for us to explore and grow.

Instead we spend our time bickering and attacking people for heterodox thought. We create videos meant to garner attention and trade on insecurity. We seek clout above camaraderie.

Maybe part of my frustration is age. Maybe part of it is something ingrained deep inside my psyche by my parents. Maybe part of it is the lingering trauma of battling people who continually conflate arguments for the sake of cheap points.

Maybe I’m just expecting too much of people. I don’t think I am. I think they expect too little of themselves.

In ten years, no one will care about your TikTok video unless they can use it against you. And meanwhile you left all the knowledge that this offered through this portal on the table.
Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

Real Talk

I’m going to speak to something this time that feels really weird. This is his is the first of two where I’m going to go somewhere serious. Sorry to bring the room down. I promise more nonsense on the way once I work past this.

Some might see this piece as abrasive. Just remember that I say things with love in my heart. I put them out here for a few reasons, not the least of which is I just feel like writing it.

It’s going to key off the sort of sentiments I’ve hit on previously while speaking to a current irritating trend I see repeated ad nauseam by fellow travelers.

It goes something along the lines of people posting dramatic statements about how they “need” to have a meaningful talk with old friends and acquaintances to let them know that they don’t like them anymore, and why. They “need” to tell them that they pointedly disagree with them about important things and why that other person has disappointed them.

Call the “Waaaahhhhhhmbulance”

Most of the time, of course, it’s just an online tantrum. That’s the largest part of what bothers me about it.

Life isn’t some soap opera where you get a heroic music cue after you tell someone off for Reason X. You’re not owed some monumental moment of closure so that you can feel like you won something.

What is it that you plan to “win” anyway? Is there some scenario where they recant all the things you now “hate” about them, because they’re so desperate for your affection and approval?

That’s incredibly sick. It means you don’t want friends, you want playmates. It means you can’t handle the idea of looking past disagreement to the human that you know is there. And we are all humans.

Are you hoping to get them to feel bad about who they are? Are you trying to prove to yourself how much better you are?

That’s kind of sad. Adults don’t need that type of validation.

The people you tell the story to later won’t think you’re any cooler because you “showed” someone. They’ll likely think it’s a somewhat boring story and/or they’ll forget about it within 72 hours.

Just Do It…or Don’t

If you’re going to cut someone off, just do it. I have. Sometimes it’s sad, because you realize you’ll likely not have a laugh about an old memory again with that person. Then you move forward, because the memory is still there.

You can still love the person as we’re all called to do. That doesn’t mean you’re obligated to hang out with them.

It’s a bizarre dysfunction to think that you need a large number of friends. People come and go in your life. I was taught you only need the ones that can stand by you in the figurative hurricane. Before social media, it seemed most people were content with quality over quantity as well.

It’s idiotic to think that everyone will like you, or that they should. If someone can’t handle any level of disagreement with you about your worldview, then that’s their problem. So long as you’re not actively being a jerk,

I have a lot of friends with whom I disagree on a lot of things. I disagree very strongly with some of them about particular things.

Still we remain friends because of other things upon which we do agree. Things like respect, and honor, and the spark we see inside them that sometimes they can’t see themselves.

Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer in Tombstone as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday | kesseljunkie.com
Be a Daisy

The Present is Not the Past

If you can’t find that connection with someone, then that’s fine! If you were friends with them in the past, but can’t connect with them now, that’s fine too.

But don’t pretend that means you never were friends if it’s someone you knew years ago. Who you were then, and who they are now, may indeed be different. To be honest, you should be.

Divorce yourself from the idea that those changes make one of you good, or one of you bad. Change is a part of life. That pang you feel is the emotional reaction against the idea that you’re older. That can be scary, because it means you’re closer to answering the big question if there’s anything after this. That sting is from realizing you’re not in control.

There’s something inside you that’s reacting to your own change. It might scare you.

If it does, ask yourself if the problem is really with the person you want to confront…or you.

Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine Darth Sidious in Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith | kesseljunkie.com
Also, you can learn to fake it.

Why Be a Follower?

I’ve wondered for some time about the horrible naming conventions on social media. They bother me.

This is your fair warning that I’m going to be a bit pointed in this one. Before I go further I want to that I’ve connected to some great folks on social media platforms, but for now I’m going to focus on generalities.

Facebook has completely devalued the meaning of the word “friend,” using it as emotional leverage to stay connected to people you knew in the past that wound up being every bit of the pretentiously self-important thumb twaddlers you thought they would. It ushered in the era of peer pressure as lifestyle capital, and forwarded the idea of groupthink as normalcy.

Facebook is now the struggle session for Generation X and their parents. I’ve seen some spectacular fights on the platform, and I’ve seen some magnificent moments that amount to schadenfreude as spectacle. But make no mistake that Facebook has taught us to revel in our baser tribal instincts of ideological purity and virtual bloodlust.

But at least it used a benign word, “friend,” to denote a connection. Twitter…went a different way.

Twitter has followers. What a poisonous word that can be.

A follower can never be a leader. A follower is always looking to someone else. And so, even those who have attained a modicum of “celebrity” are still following others. There is a circular, leaderless quality to it all.

A follower can be a disciple, someone who accepts and spreads the word of another. In the best cases, they are the adherent of a good teacher’s lessons. In the worst…something other.

A follower is always a follower, and being a follower is fraught with peril.

On social media, you follow people and you collect followers. Certainly there are those who have gained many followers, but even they follow others. There is a circular insanity to it, that surrenders individuality to the clueless maelstrom of anger and dissatisfaction.

When you are only a follower, you are no more reliable than a flag in the wind. You are an empty vessel to be filled by others.

So don’t be a follower of people. Be a thinker, be a philosopher, and be a resource. Be a real friend. You owe it to yourself to question and validate each step you take, not have someone tell you what to think.

No reason.

P.S. Being a man of faith, I anticipate the snarky response that I am a follower in that context. I’d simply reply that Jesus sent the disciples out to be apostles. The baptismal vow for Catholics is to become a priest, a prophet, and king; the believer is not a follower but a part of the whole. There’s also the whole matter of whose teachings you’re espousing, with God being maybe the one being in the entire Universe you should follow, but then we get into questions bigger than this blog.

The World Needs Laughter

Not in much of a mood to write today, but writing anyway to keep the momentum going. I charged into this whole resurrection of the blog with the idea that I’d hit one of my famous streaks, and today is more out of a desire to keep the streak going. As you can see in my recent blog 31 Movies in 31 Days, it’s the principle of a thing once I set my mind to it.

It would be tempting to write another musing on my love for Star Trek V, as today is the anniversary of its release. In fact, there’s a blog topic I have in mind that has to do with anniversaries of films, but I’m not of a mood to write it today.

It would be tempting to write about another of my friends who, for no other reason than to be a good friend, went out of his way to help me get something set up that would have been daunting for me.

It would be tempting to write about how I’ve got three different movie pitches starring Craigula, one of which could even be a Disney®™© hit in the old family style like Hot Lead and Cold Feet, which still isn’t on Disney+, thank you very much.

I’m telling you, they’re billion dollar movies.

Instead I’m writing a plea, to no one in particular. This is the equivalent of a shout to the heavens, especially since so few people will read this, unless an insecure hack decides it doesn’t strike their fancy and sets their own horde of sycophants after me.

I want people to laugh.

Based on the large volume of activity I see, people are spending their time waiting for the signal to descend virtually onto latest crop of souls like digital locusts, in hopes that their specific “dunk” scores the most validating engagement.

Some figure that today is the day that their Facebook post is going to scold people into agreeing with them. They insist they don’t want to cite their expertise, but they’re totally going to cite their expertise for a circularly infallible argument from authority.

I want people to laugh.

I want people to stop vaguebooking and subtweeting past acquaintances – or even current people they label as “friends” – for a moment and look for something, anything, that makes them smile or laugh. It may be a memory of a kitten flying a jet fighter while listening to the Spice Girls. It may be the idea of Craigula being summoned by saying his name three times, only to pull the ultimate prank by having him appear in a sunny locale.

It doesn’t matter. Just pick something. Anything. Laugh at that thing – not ironically, not in a condescending exercise of supposed superiority. Maybe even laugh at yourself.

And if what you pick doesn’t work for you, just move on and find something else. There’s no reason to ruin someone else’s fun.

And when you’re done laughing you can go back to being as angry as you want. Heck, even I get angry sometimes. Just take a moment to laugh and remember that it doesn’t all have to be dismal.

Un/Mute

This isn’t just another diatribe about the hollowness of life during the social media revolution. It’s something else.

Recently a dear, close friend of mine discovered something unsettling about our connection on social media. It’s the sort of thing that can test a relationship. At least, I think it could. I’m not sure since it didn’t test ours, but I think it could test others.

That might have to do with the strength of the friendship. The person who made the discovery is one of my closest friends and a trusted confidante. He was able to contextualize the truth of the matter and know that I was dealing straight with him.

I mean, honestly, I deal straight with everyone. It’s the level of bluntness that varies.

man wearing black and white formal suit jackets
“Why’s it taking him so long to give a ‘like’ for the link to the dissertation thread I wrote about the interconnectedness of Greek mythology and the Hunger Games series?” Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

“Hey, You Muted Me.”

It’s not important how he discovered it. He discovered that I had muted him. It’s ironic that he discovered it while I’ve been on a self-imposed social media sabbatical.

I “muted” him.

It’s a fair presumption you know what that means. In case you don’t, I’m guessing you don’t use social media very much. “Muting” someone means you silence their account unless they mention you.

You may ask why someone would do this. I’m sure there are as many reasons as there are people using social media. I’m not going to waste time or bolster word count by speculating all of them. People have their reasons.

In this specific instance, you may wonder why someone would “mute” a close, dear friend. It stands to reason that a close friend is someone from whom you’d want to hear. You would be right. A close friend is someone from whom you’d want to hear.

That’s why I muted him.

I Already Speak to Those Close to Me

I am in contact with my friends. I stay in contact with some of them primarily by text message. Some of them stay in contact by phone calls, though that’s a rare few at this point.

I typically hated speaking by phone before text messaging was “a thing.” I loved it when I was younger and life was less complicated. I’m a talker, though, and in the current hectic everyday world, phone calls can be frustrating for me because I’m just getting warmed up when it has to end. Better to have me trained to get to the point.

I’m in contact with my close friends on a daily, or near-daily, basis. There’s a direct pipeline to them open at all times.

It came to a point where, thanks to algorithms “curating” things, I was seeing the social media messages of people I spoke with already. It makes sense since the spy devices in our pockets keep tabs on our engagement. The online services, with all the wisdom of a robot, figure that since I speak to someone a whole lot, that’s who I want to speak to at all times.

Dexter Jettster in Star Wars Attack of the Clones which is a Star Wars movie with Dexter Jettster in the Star Wars series and is the only Star Wars movie with Dexter Jettster Hi Craigula.
Had a point.

No Objection

It’s not that I object to hanging out a lot with people I like and love. It’s not that I don’t want to stay in contact and share in their lives and experiences.

It’s that I see social media as an opportunity to interact with new people I’ve not known before. It’s an exercise in mingling, and discovering someone else out there.

Otherwise, I don’t see the point. If I just want to talk to the same people all the time, I do that already when I’m not on social media. I know this to be true because, as I’ve mentioned, I’m on a social media sabbatical and I still speak to them every day.

His account lays out there, muted. Others do, too, for the record. This person just sleuthed it out, and another person has known for a long time. Still others drift through life, ignorant of their online muzzle.

I still see pictures they want to share. I still speak to them constantly. I still change the subject when they don’t agree with my opinion about Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

I still love them. I just don’t need them dominating all my channels.

Lawrence Luckinbill as Sybok in Star Trek V The Final Frontier directed by William Shatner which was a Star Trek movie with Sybok and the original crew from the TOS series of Star Trek Hi Craigula.
I brought it back around to Star Trek V and Sybok. Enjoy it.