It’s Too Much!

It’s too much!

I opened BBC.com this morning. (I write these blogs a week before I post them, so I was checking the headlines from June 6th.) I was keeping up on the news. Like a worldly man might be expected to do. The British are a little removed from the crazy making games in the United States, so I usually scan BBC. Anyway, I saw this:

Washington Monument Struck By Lightning.”

I burst out laughing.

It’s all too much. The day before, Trump said that George Floyd was smiling down on the United States because the job numbers were so good. And then it was raining lightning on D.C. What use is satire anymore? It’s impossible to dream up something more disturbing than what is happening. It’s hard for me to read the news cycle with a straight face. I keep waiting for Benny Hill to come running across my iPhone, being chased by a crowd of angry people. Chasing after a crowd of scantily clad women. Like Joe Biden after he catches a whiff of Pantene.

That Biden joke I just made was really good.

The news is too much. The back and forth on Twitter is too much. Lean to the left. Lean to the right. Post until you can’t see straight and then post some more. Maybe another post will change the world. Or get some likes. Or maybe it won’t. I don’t know, man.

Yes, the United States seethes and spits with racism. With white supremacy. This is nothing new. And yes, a global pandemic has killed about 400,000 people since January. I don’t really see a way to debate whether or not these two things are real. And these things are heavy. And the way these two things are taken up in virtual discourse is absurd.

Jim James released an album in 2019. The Order of Nature. I was listening to a song on the record called In Demand before I wrote this. What a track! Give it a listen. Here’s a couple of pieces of wisdom from the song. How about the first verse:

I see blood on my phone
World spinning out of my control
I see fear in us all
Don’t need to feed it anymore

Blood on my phone. Damn right. Don’t feed that fear, man. Take a look at this verse later in the song:

Read the news on the wall
Well it’s bad but that’s not all
It’s been told
It’s happening inside our heads
Trading real life for online death
Trading real love for social mess

Trading real life for online death? No thank you.

***

I’ll turn 40 on June 9th. A few days before I post this. Happy birthday, Sam.

“I have lines on my forehead from squinting,” Katie told me the other day. “I’ll probably have wrinkles there by the time I’m your age.”

My age? Oof.

Look, I’m spry as ever. Full of youth and spit and vinegar. But I’m also forty. Settling into the songs of experience, I guess.

I got my first cell phone in 1998. It was a nuisance, so I got rid of it in 1999. I managed to live without an iPhone until 2015. Without a Facebook or Twitter, too. But now I’ve succumbed. It’s 2020. Find me on all the social medias. Except Tinder. Gross. I rarely post anything of substance. Funny things that happen to me. Pictures of my boys. My family. My cats. (RIP, Meowasauras). But I also use social media to lurk. Scroll through the news on Twitter. See people posting, commenting, and spitting vinegar to the left and to the right. I won’t deny that the voyeurism of it is addicting. But I also won’t pretend it’s healthy. Or helpful.

I don’t know that any of my real learning about myself or the world has come from reading or writing posts on social media. This is true about politics. About race. About pandemics. Any substantive knowledge that I have about these things has come from more serious reading. Books or articles. Comes from serious writing, too. Writing helps me make sense of things. Really, most of my real learning has come from experience. Moving through the world and interacting with other people in person. Being in classrooms as a teacher or a student. Talking and thinking with others who are very different than me in real time and space. With love. That’s where I’ve learned things.

Not from Twitter. Not Facebook. Certainly not Instagram. Or your Finsta. Or, God forbid, Tinder.

***

Solomon had his last day of Kindergarten last week. On June 5th, if you’re keeping track. But it wasn’t in a classroom. It was in a Zoom meeting because, regardless of what you posted or read on social media, a global pandemic is still happening.

Solomon was excited about the meeting. He won the “Citizenship” award. After class, he came out of the sunroom. He burst into tears. Because he wouldn’t see his friends in Kindergarten or his teacher anymore.

This story, for me, is deeply tragic. It is more sad than a headline or a post, because I experienced it in real time and space. With real people. Less visceral for you, probably, because you’re reading this on some sort of screen.

I have no conclusion to draw at the end of this short blog. Other than the headline about lightning striking the Washington Monument a day after Trump said George Floyd was smiling down on the United States’ economy made me laugh. Because it was so absurd. That’s all.

It’s too much.

And, once more, I suggest you go back and read that joke I made about Joe Biden at the outset of this blog. It’s really funny.

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