A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
People don’t think anymore. I’m not talking about stupid people, although the 21st century seems to have an extra ration of them. Nor am I talking about daydreaming, the gentle art of thinking about everything and nothing, all at the same time. I’m talking about the act of thinking. The activity whose only purpose is to produce thoughts (random and otherwise.) Basically, we’re so damn busy doing stuff that we never actually think. Our multitasking universe just doesn’t allow for it. It’s considered lazy. So we fill our random time with “busy” that looks and feels like we’re doing something. The problem is it’s mostly crap like playing with our phones or watching TV. But we believe action (even something as passive as surfing YouTube) is better than just staring off into space, thinking about it. Horse feathers!
Take a look at Newton. The reason Sir Isaac figured out gravity was he was sitting under the apple tree in the first place — doing nothing. (BTW, I know the story’s a myth but …) My point is, instead of texting his BFF John Locke a picture of an apple, Newton took the time to contemplate why the apple fell to the ground instead of just floating in the air. Voila! Gravity!
I realize we’re not all scientific geniuses like Newton and for the most part ordinary thoughts are — well — ordinary, but so what? The purpose of thinking is to give the mind something to do.
Look at the person running on a treadmill. They’re not fleeing for their lives; they’re not chasing anything; they’re not even going anywhere. Actually, it’s a useless activity except common wisdom dictates people who don’t exercise end up sloppy, fat bastards, lying on a sofa, eating Doritos and watching old Michael Bay movies for the storyline. Eeeww!
The mind works the same way. If we don’t exercise it, our decision making, problem-solving and critical analysis become flabby. A meme is easier to read than an essay, a soundbyte easier to analyze than a debate, and simple problems become overwhelming. It’s a dangerous road we’re travelling, and if we’re not careful, we could end up in a society wallowing in celebrity worship, entirely dominated by Kim Kardashian’s bum, Donald Trump’s hairstyle and … Hey! Wait a minute … I think I’m going to go find a tree and just sit there for awhile.