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Archive for August 21st, 2008

Update: A quick side-trip to a link provided by Scubafreak over at Weasel’s.  The guy has to be engaged in a certain amount of self-loathing shortly after snorting a line of Wasabi powder.

Totally unrelated but still important – I am going to change my blog design yet again because while I love the warm look of these pages, the CSS Whiz who designed it neglected to make it so you could tell what was a link and what wasn’t. This weekend. It’s all about change.

Update #2:  Lucky baby… and a dog that should get steaks once a week for life.

Update #3:  Yeah, this will fly.  Cop claims sex with prostitute wasn’t fun, it was work.

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And now, the regular post…

I’ve coined and referred to the SLC (see my definition) a number of times, and today I found on NPR.ORG (talk about shock and awe) a piece written by Dick Meyer.  I can’t tell you how gobsmacked I was at finding this kind of topic on NPR of all places – when I go in there it is like I’m Daniel walking into a den of stoned, mercurial, and self-absorbed lions.  But really, while quite a few people at NPR are indeed biased but they are also polite biased people – usually.  Sometimes they are misguided, but sometimes they get something right.  In “An Age Of American Self-Loathing” we see a self-loathing that is not projected but observed as a true societal phenomenon and is not brought up for self-righteousness’ sake but out of concern for straying away from any values or norms at all (emphasis mine):

In the opening of his new book, Why We Hate Us: American Discontent in the New Millennium, Dick Meyer checks off a list of gripes and social ills of our time. From vulgar t-shirts to the demise of independent stores, the list is, indeed, annoying — even infuriating. Meyer, NPR’s editorial director for digital media, sees it as a reflection of the fall of western civilization. He’s only half-joking about this.

Meyer is troubled by what he sees as an exponential increase in rampant rudeness, corruption and the valuation of getting ahead at others’ expense. He identifies the 1960s as the starting point of a great shift in the American psyche, a time of wonderful progress and enlightenment in such powerful realms as civil rights, but also the beginning of a descent into unfettered me-ism.

“Christopher Lasch, a historian and social critic, was one of the first to worry that the worldview revolutions of the sixties could truly threaten people’s ability to build and lead productive, unselfish adult lives,” Meyer writes. And in his 1978 book The Culture of Narcissism, Lasch blamed selfism, or narcissism, for the decline in American confidence.

I think it’s worse than just narcissism.  It is my belief, my contention, that the narcissism is not even conscious in a lot of cases.  It is a matter of the newer generation of people not knowing any other way to be because they’ve never seen a good example of how to be.

Meyer makes an observation in an op-ed at the Washington Post that has not been lost upon me:

I suppose there’s a place and purpose for public aggression, drunkenness and lewdness. Certainly the Romans enjoyed it in their decline. – Dick Meyer

I mean, come on – when we have all manner of truly disgusting “reality” tv shows and contest shows featuring gluttony combined with forced exercise or nausea-inducing rides only to see who the last person to barf will be… Rome just had a little more class about it, that’s all.  (Which is not saying much)

In another article:

[He] is a man with a list of hates. Meyer, NPR’s new editorial director of digital media, can rattle off plenty of examples: corporations that profess to care about you, the words “managed care,” and reality shows that promise a shot at love with a celebrity called Tila Tequila.

Those are some of the gripes to be found in Meyer’s new book, Why We Hate Us: American Discontent in the New Millennium.

All those little complaints are indicators of something bigger, Meyer told Steve Inskeep: a lack of trust in public leadership and an overall weakening of public morality.

“The 1960s was a symbolic turning point,” Meyer said, citing the decade as a time when personal choice became more important than following tradition.

In his column titled “The 35-Year Bad Mood” he says (emphasis mine):

… no nation on Earth has ever been more long-lived, healthy, well-sheltered, prosperous, safe from foreign intrusion and free in the pursuit of happiness.  But happiness, the social scientists tell us, has declined in America.

Poll numbers and statistics just hint at things deeper. In ways impossible to quantify, Americans have become down on America, allergic to much of what goes on in public.

Many parents, whether they are Christian home-schoolers or urban liberals, feel that pop culture is toxic, and they guard their children from it in ways that were unthinkable a generation ago.  Primetime network television is off-limits because it is mostly violent, potty-mouthed or exploitive. The advertising is grossly sexualized and cravenly materialistic.

Ouchie.

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