Politics, Moderate



The social media are also antisocial media

By Bob Franken on

For those who are wondering who in tarnation is Roy Rogers, he called himself the "King of the Cowboys" and was one of the big stars of Western shoot-'em-up movies. Those films really contributed to the cultural mindset that has made us such a gun-totin' country today, which results in one automatic weapon massacre after another. The idea that these killing machines are so embedded in the American identity makes it politically impossible to have any meaningful controls over gun possession today, with deadly results.

The glamorization of killing without consequences had its roots in Roy, the Lone Ranger and others who roamed the Wild West on the screens and into our subconscious. In retrospect, these observations definitely should have had a trigger warning.

If you're wondering who zoomers are, they make up Generation Z, and have barely made it out of puberty. As well as millennials, who just seem like they haven't. It's a snarky reference to those who are too young to have accumulated the mileage necessary to take over, well, just about anything. It's also an irritable reaction to the "OK, boomer" dismissal of anyone who might offer the benefit of experience to anyone younger who thinks he or she knows everything and doesn't need the benefit of seasoning that only comes from years of existence.

It's also ageist as all get out to diss anyone just because he or she is senior. So yes, I'm dissed off as a member of the generation that is older than dirt.

But let's discuss this attitude on its merits, or lack thereof. It is true that the boomers have made a mess of things and also true that the boomers were incredibly self-indulgent. "If it feels good, do it" was the mantra of the 1960s, obviously irresponsible, but it certainly felt good. The boomers made the same mistake of those who succeeded them, the millennials and the ones they begat. For the boomers, the watchword was "Never trust anyone over 30," rejecting the lessons their parents tried to teach them, as part of the so-called Greatest Generation.

With an "OK, newser" nod to Tom Brokaw -- who chronicled that demographic group -- the "Greatest" survived the Great Depression and went off to war to stop tyranny, but their era was, in fact, a mixed bag. Balancing the obvious accomplishments were the realities of Jim Crow segregation and the oppression of women. Plus, that generation could be blamed for raising the boomers. While they were a population bulge of narcissists, this is the same self-indulgent demographic group that started unraveling all the bigotry it inherited. They also coddled their children, who have continued their assaults on the prejudices that still infect our society.


Meanwhile, technology is spinning out of control. Yes, it brings with it a worldwide connectivity. But that has advantages, along with very serious disadvantages. While the cyber world moves at blinding speed, it also blinds us to the need to understand how knowledge is accumulated. We no longer have to learn how to learn. Computers do it all for us, which inevitably leads to a contempt for the learned.

The social media are also antisocial media. Our access to everyone paradoxically means we are in solitary confinement, where our individual abilities translate into lone voices. A sense of community at any level is tougher and tougher to achieve.

(c) 2019 Bob Franken

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



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