A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Truth is an elusive commodity. We humans have been hunting it ever since Lucy and her girlfriends dropped out of the trees, in Ethiopia, mucho millennia ago. Over those centuries (and certainly in the last 5,000 years of recorded history) it was generally agreed that there were only four ways to actually find truth. Most of us learned this when we took Philosophy 101 in university (to punch up our grade point.) However, here in the 21st century, our ever-expanding egos have outrun our ability to think rationally. We now dismiss most of our society’s collective wisdom (including the search for truth) as the archaic ramblings of dead Europeans. To that end — surprise! — the Millennials have added two new ways to find truth.
Using the modern analogy of the bus stop, let me demonstrate.
Let’s say we’re embarking on the great journey of life and need to know where to catch a bus (the bus being a clever metaphor for truth.) Here are the four traditional ways to find the bus stop.
1 — The Authoritarian Path — Somebody tells you where the bus stops.
This is the simplest and most direct method, unless, of course, the authoritarian figure you choose is a jackass. In that case, you’ll probably end up either praying for a bus, fighting with your neighbours to see who drives the bus, or being told that The Fearless Leader doesn’t like buses and you better learn how to walk.
2 — The Scientific Path — You experiment until you discover where the bus stops.
This is the most common method. It involves standing at various places along various streets, waiting for a bus to a) show up, in the first place, b) stop, or, c) drive right by. This will work — eventually. Unfortunately, truth by trial and error normally results in a lot of error, and you can literally spend years waiting for a bus. In most cases, by the time you do figure it out, collate all your data — test and retest — you’re too damn old to enjoy the bus ride.
3 — The Mathematical Path — You collect other people’s theories about where the bus stops.
Sometimes called The Peer Pressure Path, this method relies on finding out where other people wait for buses and standing there too. Although this method does work, given the number of people in the world, how easily influenced they are and the vast number of buses available, the chances of you actually getting the bus you want are pretty slim. Generally, you’ll spend most of your life riding around on somebody else’s bus.
4 — The Artistic Path — You intrinsically know where the bus stops.
This method consists of knowing in your soul that the bus always stops where the sign reads “Bus Stop.” When this works, it is a thing of beauty. However, the vast majority of people who claim to be artists can’t actually read. Thus, they spend their days, wasting their time (and yours) waiting for the bus under Stop signs, No Parking signs and Directional markers.
In conclusion, the truth remains as elusive as ever. However the Millennials may have solved the problem.
Here are the two new ways to find truth:
5 — The Social Media Path — You use technology to tell everybody where the bus stops.
This occurs when (even though you have absolutely no evidence to prove it) you type “There is a bus stop at 8th and Alma” into your computer. You accompany this information with a cute kitten, a puppy or some boobs and send it into out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other social media you can think of. Your “Friends” “Like” your post and “Share” it with their “Friends,” who, in turn, “Share” it with their “Friends” who … you get the idea. Soon, somebody creates a website “Fans of the 8th Ave Bus Stop.” Other websites follow and people begin podcasting, blogging and vlogging about the bus stop. The mainstream media picks up the trend, and within the next 48-hour news cycle, there are 14 news reports, 3 documentaries, several celebrity interviews and an HBO drama in development. Within days, so many people are aware of the Bus Stop at 8th and Alma that, even though it doesn’t exist, it becomes the truth.
6 — The Offended Path — You’re suddenly offended that the bus doesn’t stop exactly where you want it to.
This method works on the premise that you are not responsible for finding your own bus and that the bus company is systemically evil for not providing you with one. What happens is you read somewhere that there’s this really cool bus stop at 8th and Alma. You immediately start bitching and moaning, that you don’t have a bus stop, using buzzwords like “injustice,” ” inequality,” “corporate greed” and “social change.” The mainstream media, already aware that the bus stop at 8th and Alma is trending, take up your cause. (Victims are news.) The bus company, scared skinny of negative publicity, don’t even try to explain that there isn’t actually a bus stop at 8th and Alma. Instead, they reroute several other buses (inconveniencing hundreds of people) to put a bus stop in front of your house — so you’ll shut up. Invariably, you’ve raised so much awareness — and money — as a social activist you can afford to travel by taxi. Truth and Justice are served.
Somebody once said, “The Truth will set you free.” These days, I’m not so sure.