Inspection- Heading Towards a Jerry Springer Country

 Don’t start on me! I understand the irony: Jerry Springer used to be an XM/Sirius talk show host on the LEFT side: and he wasn’t very good, in my opinion. “Don’t start on me” with a, “They started it first!” No matter where you stand politically, that’s the kind of playground BS is Inspectionsomething elementary teachers had deal with for years: “I don’t care who ‘started it first.'”
 And where did the odd phrase “start on me” come from? Was it some homeless guy sleeping under a semi in a Pilot parking lot yelling out, “Don’t start ON me!” (Imagine how I could find humor in all the variations of “start on,” like “start with?”)
 Is Donald Trump the perfect politician for today because increasingly we have a Jerry Springer country? Politically we do seem to live from outrage to insult to outrage to…. if only it was as funny as pie fights in old movies, instead of increasingly getting more deadly.
 Where there’s no insult we invent one.
 Where there is insult it’s not just acceptable but is encouraged.
 It’s as if everyone is trying to get great ratings using increasingly outrageous claims, like a show about a supposed ‘bimbo’ from Mars who assaults a pimp from Uranus. (Maybe I misspelled the last word in that sentence and it is is TWO words?)
 Increasingly we live with this as if it has always been the norm, as if it has anything to do with actual debate and discussion. But….

  “You a nanny boo boo.”
 ” No YOU a nanny boo boo.”

 Or…

 (You’re a…) ” … puppet.”

 …have little to do with debate or discussion. They are more akin to when the audience rushes the stage and starts beating on each other over some tawdry topic that we need to be adults about. But being an adult has nothing to do with…

  “You a nanny boo boo.”
 ” No YOU a nanny boo boo.”

 Or…

 (You’re a…) ” … puppet.”
 ”NO, YOU da puppet!”

 Some of this has to do with the nature of new tech and how we use it to prop up humanity’s worst tendencies: seeking advantage, power and control. But, to paraphrase and re-purpose Marshall McLuan, the nature of the medium changes the message. Back in 1960 Kennedy beat Nixon, in part, because his stubble face and makeup made him look disheveled. Those who had heard him on radio thought Nixon had won. There were plenty of other reasons he lost, for sure, but any new tech has a propensity for making us even more of an Idiocracy, and TV from that moment started to make image increasingly more important than content.
 By 64 one might argue the new-ish medium: when it comes to politics, helped defeat Goldwater, in part, because of a brief puppies, kittens, cute little kid exterminated by a nuke political ad. Again: there were other reasons and, like McGovern, the likelihood of Goldwater winning was slight to none. Like Nixon’s poor makeup moment, it just made Barry an easier target.
  Through the years pols and their handlers have learned how to handle the medium in ways that would have made Goebbels jealous. If you go back and listen to the debates, the speeches, it has changed them too. Our rhetoric has gone from complex ideas and respectful disagreement to idiotic, easy to refute, laughable catch phrases and caveman-intellect framing that amounts to…

 ”NO, YOU da puppet!”

 Meanwhile, on the technology front, I find that far too many younger folks, which with my generation is coming down to almost everyone these days, find writing too much of a chore. They want to text, they want to tweet: both which discourages in-depth thought, little to no reasoning skills, and encourages an inability to see issues from sides other than one’s own.
 Texting and tweeting increasingly leave us focused on incomplete sentences and simplistic snark.
 There’s a movie I mentioned before: Idiocracy. If you haven’t seen, please seek it out. I think it’s becoming more documentary than fiction.
 So, to provide just one example, if you laugh at the president’s simplicity and repetitiveness when he talks, when he rallies his base, when he tweets: the joke may be on you. Whether something is true, or not, almost doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve argued with those who have used some simpler version of, “Yeah, but it sounds like him (her), so I’m going to use it anyway.” When you live in a caveman world of ughs and oogs, where simplistic accusatory comebacks are all that matters, who does it the loudest, who beats and yells harder, who rushes the Jerry Springer stage with the most anger-driven energy, wins. Who beats down those who disagree harder gets the best ratings. The media, Facebook and tech all make them more important: when they’re NOT. But the more thoughtful anything, any statement, is the more it gets lost in the noise, the more ignorant… the more entertaining. And in an Idiocracy that’s all that matters.
 The only question left is how low; to what level of simplicity, new technology will carry us in the future. At 64 I’m thankful I may not find out.
                                       -30-
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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