That would be pretty stupid right? If I was writing an article about why you should stop reading articles about lists telling you how to live your life... with a list. The truth is something has snapped in our singular consciousness, and I am not immune. In fact, I've made the majority of my strides in the blogging world by creating just that, lists. "6 reason to do this", "21 Reasons why you shouldn't do that". What is it about bullet points that makes it the only way we can seem to process culturally relevant information anymore?
In this age of social media, why does it seem that we can't focus on anything that doesn't tell us exactly what we need to do? I mean, none of us are the same right? All of our situations are slightly if not significantly different right? So why are the vast majority of the articles I see spread throughout social media founded in this principle that you have to have some kind of checklist guideline to live your life by?
Why are your "6 Reasons Not Quitting Your Job to Travel is a Waste of Your Life" relevant to me? Maybe I don't want to fucking travel! The truth is I actually wrote that article that gained a huge amount of internet traffic, but as it was doing that I couldn't help but think, why? Why, couldn't I simply write an article about my passion for traveling, not wanting to be tied down, and wanting to see the world, without singling out groups of people that would feel left out. The truth? Because nobody would publish it. So what is it about these articles that we find so appealing? Is our generation so riddled with ADD, that we simply can't focus on anything that will challenge our mental capacity outside of a clear and concise list? I certainly don't think so, and I certainly hope not.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
This is a hard question to answer. Maybe it's simply due to the fact of relatability. If people see a list that relates to them, they are instantly interested, they are the ideal target market. The same way people who swing conservative watch FoxNews, and liberals watch Bill Maher. It seems that we all have a need to fill our own set of customs and beliefs, and the easiest way to do that is to see something that instantly pops out and says, "Oh... That's Me!".
This all plays back to social media and this age of interconnectivity. You can literally find a group for EVERYTHING now. Star Wars geek... check. Anime Fiend... Check. Lesbians Who Love Ruby Rose... Check. Crazy Cat Videos... TRIPLE CHECK! We are so accustomed to getting exactly what we want whenever we want it, that the idea of reaching outside of our comfort zone and our preconceived world values seems silly. If I'm a staunch liberal, why would I bother reading anything Bill O'Reily has to say? Through our need for singularity we've taken creativity, debate, and social commentary out of the equation.
It's the same reason that every week it seems like some long time sports personality or TV host is in hot water over a comment deemed too politically incorrect in this day and age. People don't like hearing things that make them uncomfortable, and media pays attention to that. It doesn't matter if the rest of your viewership agrees, if one person feels attacked, it can sink the whole ship. This is why media has become so one-sided. Left is left, right is right, there can be no more inbetween, because unless there's 50 Shades of it, gray makes us feel uncomfortable.
WHAT'S THE SOLUTION?
The simple answer would be, challenge yourself, challenge your opinions, think outside the box, but c'est la vie, life is not always so simple. So here's what I propose. Stop being so goddamn sensitive. This includes myself as well. I'm just as guilty of ignoring things that challenge my worldview as the next person, but I'm trying to make an effort. I try to avoid articles that I know won't make me think, but will just confirm the beliefs I already hold dear. "8 Reasons Tom Brady is a Cheating Douche"? I can probably figure that one out for myself I don't need to read 2,000 words from someone that will most likely end with, "but no matter what you think... he's still banging Giselle".
As far as sensitivity is concerned, that ones a little harder to address, but let's give it the old college try. I've spent the last month at a yoga retreat to get my teaching certification, and in that time of study and practice I've come to a few conclusions. People are all very, very different, but also very much the same. There's not many of us who let everything roll off our shoulders with ease, but that should be the goal. This doesn't mean not standing up for what you believe in or taking arms against an action or statement you believe to be truly reprehensible. But it does mean taking a deep breath before taking action, and realizing that we are all fundamentally entitled to our own opinions, no matter how dumb they may seem to others. The 1st Ammendment was chosen first because it's a foundation of what this country was founded on. If we let all the little things affect us and cause us grief, how can we expect to be taken seriously when something really egregious comes up. We all have the right to our own opinions, even if some are more stupid than others, but just because you don't agree with it, doesn't mean they don't have a right to say it. As George Carlin once said:
"Rights aren't 'rights' if someone can take them away - They're privileges. That's all we've ever had in this country: a bill of temporary privileges. And if you read the news, even badly, you know that the list gets shorter and shorter."
The truth is the only way we are able to grow is exposing ourselves to the beliefs of others. And this works both ways, whether to affirm what you already believed, or sometimes to make you question things you once considered to be the foundation of your belief structure. If we never changed, never questioned anything, we would all be still stuck in our 10 year old minds. Every boy would be a super hero, and every girl would be a princess, but this is not reality. Things change, we adjust, we learn, and we grow, but all of a sudden it seems we've come to a hault. All this progress, all this new era of thinking has slammed on its brakes. Now all we seem to want to do is stay complacent, comfortable in our bubble, and we use social media and blogs, and other websites to simply perpetuate our own world views. You wanna know the solution, stop. It's as simple as that. Stop being complacent, stop spinning your wheels, and dare to be uncomfortable. Next time you have the choice between more cat memes, or an article or youtube video questioning something you hold sacred, pick the latter. Who knows it might even reaffirm what you already believe. But we all know cat memes only lead to one thing... more cat memes.
This isn't to say that you need to question EVERYTHING constantly, and live in this perpetual world of non-knowing and non-commital. But every once in a while, it's nice to take a walk on the wild side. Who knows you might even like it. And besides if you're a Gen-Y kid like me, and you don't yet know "The 10 Real Reasons Guys Love Blowjobs", well I'm sorry to tell you sweetheart... but you probably never will.