Tuesday, January 11, 2011

GENERATION "KNOW"

So I'm on a conference call the other day and one of the parties involved mentioned he was suffering from the flu. Without delay, medical advice was offered up as to the various ways to ameliorate all his maladies.

"Have you taken Emergen-C?" advised one person.

"Are you drinking electrolytes cause you should be," was another pointed directive.

"Chicken Soup -- it's medically proven to help your chest and your cough."

It's not surprising people don't want any sort of mandated health care. Everyone already has their honorary doctorate from the University of "Know". We know. We do.  And we're encouraged to  know.  Message boards are attached to every news item, as if they were up for discussion of the facts because the reporter who printed the piece wasn't quite sure.  We're supposed to sound off.  We're supposed to know.

And although this generation is intent on knowing things, this generation has no shortage of popular advice for everything. We have Dr. Phil on television (and had Dr. Laura on radio) to set us straight with our familial dilemmas and point us in the right direction of how to handle things morally. We have Sean Hannity and Keith Olbermann to tell us from each side of the aisle what our candidates 'really' are saying. We have Jim Cramer telling us how to make "Mad Money." We have Oprah Winfrey telling us what books are really worth reading.

And while these people supposedly tell us what we don't know, we seem to know everything else. The internet has made it possible to sort of know something about things you once knew nothing about. There's a myth that dragonflies only live for 24 hours. But because of the internet, I know that's not true. Although, there's also just as many sites it seems that don't have the correct information on that. What's wrong? How do they not know?

I had a softball coach that was a conspiracy theorist. It was kind of funny because here he was this big guy, a guy who looked like he could cause a lot more harm than have harm caused upon him, and he was certain the government was responsible for all sorts of things. He just knew. It didn't matter what proof there might be against any said argument, the fact that there were holes meant somehow the government had filled them.

It was like the people that thought President Clinton had still gotten away with some sort of massive wrongdoing even after $70 million of taxpayer money went to an investigation that uncovered Lewinsky. Of course, I would make the argument to those that just knew he had somehow escaped any sort of culpability, that really what they were saying was that Clinton was brilliant. He somehow outwitted Ken Starr and all those that wanted to see him crash to the ground...he was that good.

Now we have Arizona, where Jared Loughner had apparently become very distrustful of the government because somehow he just knew they were bad. Not unlike those in the radical Michigan militia who weave fantasies of the government invading their lives and taking away their freedom by force, Loughner appeared to be vulnerable to those that preached paranoia and hatred toward government officials. And the argument has begun as to whether the continual negative rhetoric we all know exists in the political arena has simply gone too far?

Irrespective of that is the sad realization the Loughner was certain his government was worthy of distrust; and that more to the point, Gabrielle Giffords was the administrator of that distrust worthy of the action that too many people find reasonable, that of killing.

While the left and right argue or try to point fingers at why this happened, all of them should be agreeing that responsible words might have helped someone like this. What they'd rather tell you is that Loughner was deeply disturbed, without ever questioning why someone like that is deeply disturbed? Why is someone so young intent to kill, a theme that is repeating itself over and over in this last decade, from Columbine, to the recent shooting of a Principal Vicki Kaspar in a high school in Omaha. There are now countless cases where we of Generation "Know" have decided the best way to solve problems is through horrific violence that leaves a legacy forever, albeit one tainted with bloodstains and bitterness.

Generation "Know" will now blame Loughner's parents --saying if they were on top of things, this would have never happened. This is just a bit too simplistic if you ask me. Or like we're seeing on television, what has now become the most reprehensible of media outlets, more irresponsible finger pointing by political pundits whose biggest concern is neither solving the problem nor asking the right question -- it's simply about their ratings.

So how come no one in Generation "Know" knows how to fix this? How come Generation "Know" can't solve the problem?

Because dare I say that's where Generation "Know" knows too much. We know what causes lymphoma, whether UFOs are real, how to find the gossip on the Kardashians, or who the Bachelor is dating, or how to get the best flight to St. Lucia in seconds.

What we've lost is the ability to not know something.

What we've lost is the ability to admit we don't know someone else's motives. We don't know why someone's doctor put him on those pills, or why the government chose to bail out the banks. We can guess, but we don't know. We don't know for a fact O.J. actually killed his wife. We don't know if Ben Roethlisberger raped that girl. We simply don't know, for all the hubbub and the gossip and the bogus news stories tainted with half-truths in attempts to get your ear and your viewership, we simply don't know.

What we've lost is the ability to stick with something. How many people do you listen to time and time again find a person they oh so wanted to date only to blow off that person at the first sign of flaws or imperfection? Generally this happens after having sex of course, because sex is the easy part. The temporary. The information you needed to know, while the fact that they were abused as a child or see a therapist is the part you'd rather not know.

We've lost the ability to work through conflicts while treating our foil with courtesy and respect.

We've lost the ability to be thankful. These people who serve our government like Representative Giffords do so most often than not from a feeling they can make a difference for us. Not just for them necessarily, but for us. Whether I like John Boehner or not does matter one iota because in the end he deserves the respect for trying to do what he feels is best for his constituency. And the same goes for our Presidents, who the last two decades have simply become talking head fodder for shows claiming they are reporting the news when really they're reporting whatever they wish were the news.

We've lost the ability to sit at a dinner without pulling out our phone or our blackberry to email or text. By far the rudest behavior there is (and I myself have been guilty at times) I have friends who do this so much I no longer wish to do anything with them. I don't want to compete with a computer. No one does. There's about as much friendship and intimacy in those get-togethers as I have with my television. Dare I say, more people are choosing the TV for friendship while crying foul that they don't feel connected.

What about the woman who posted her suicide attempt on Facebook and succeeded because so few people responded.  They knew everything, even that she had taken pills, but did not know what to do when a human at her most critical moment needed someone to do something.  How come they didn't know?

Is it any reason Loughner or the many others out there who haven't yet reached his stage of distrust, loneliness or hopelessness are disturbed?  Aren't you disturbed enough yet that the job of school Principal is becoming high risk? Or that guns are so easy to get that a man like Loughner can get one with ammunition within day of killing six people?

This generation, the informational generation, the generation with all this knowledge at the touch of a button, this Generation "Know", doesn't seem to know much.