Hell Hath No Fury Like My Fury

I’ve been scouring my brain for a few days, trying put the finishing touches on this week’s Persephone contribution, and I’ve been drawing blanks. I’m having trouble thinking of happy, motivational and/or personal stories to inspire, or bring on the laughter. I can’t focus on anything but how MAD I am.

I’m mad because the vast majority of people don’t give a shit. About anything. And I’m tired of it.

I’m not talking about you, dear Persephone readers. I know some of you, have perused your Tumblrs and such and I know you DO care, about a vast collective of things that should be important to us as human beings, women, young people, Americans. We care – we care about the protests in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Tunisia, Yemen and elsewhere, we care about the U.S. involvement (or lack thereof) in these affairs. We care about teachers in Wisconsin getting a fair break and our government being something other than corrupt. We care about women’s rights, Planned Parenthood, and the fact that Republicans want to see our uterus as public property. We care about Christchurch, New Zealand, and the devastating earthquake that still has hundreds trapped. We care about the fact that baby dolphins and whales are washing up dead on the gulf shore. We care about all of these things and scores more things, because we’re educated, compassionate people who think outside of our own worldview. We are updated of our own accord. We provide minute by minute coverage of the world we live in to anybody who is interested, because we care.

I’m proud of that. I’m proud that in this age of technology, where everyone owns an iPhone and a Droid and has a blog, a Tumblr, a Twitter AND a Facebook, that we can rise above the intended use of these modes of entertainment (to distract) and use them for promoting awareness of these causes and events. We’re not sitting around playing Bejeweled or watching reruns of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. We’re live streaming Al Jazeera and writing thoughtful essays on how we can change our world. We’re reblogging news and pictures and updates on things that the world should know about. We’re staying informed, we’re staying aware.

I’d planned to write a Love Letter to New Zealand as my weekly contribution for this magazine. I lived there for three and a half years, and it was a very complicated and fascinating time in my life. I still think of that country every day and miss it so much that it causes me pain. I never intended to come back to the United States when I lived there, but due to various traumatic circumstances, I did come back – even so, my love for the country will never fade, and I’ll always hold a small hope that I will be able to move back someday. To me, New Zealand represents a country that has got it right. In terms of politics, healthcare, women’s issues, the food industry – you name it. I love New Zealand with a passion. So, after the devastating earthquake in Christchurch a few days ago, after watching the live streams from TVNZ, I began to feel extremely wistful and sad. I decided I would write my essay about how much I love New Zealand and its people.

I got about halfway through my essay when I totally lost motivation. I just began to think, “Nobody will care about this. Nobody wants to read this shit.” Of course I realize that’s not wholly true, and that sort of self-pitying, give-up attitude does nobody any good, but this one time, I did give in and I stopped writing. You see, for me, it’s been weeks and weeks of observation that the grand majority of people just do not care about the world outside of them. They don’t care about world events, or other countries, or taking the time to actually research their politics and opinions. They will go out of their way to avoid people who do. We’re seen as pushers, as propagandists, as busybodies with too much time on our hands. You know that feeling you get when you begin to suspect that people want you to stop talking, that you’re being annoying? I feel like that all the time these days.

You know what I don’t care about? A lot. I don’t care about what various Facebook friends of mine ate for dinner yesterday. I don’t care if they are exhausted from hours of class. I don’t care if they bought a great new outfit, or tried a new kind of beer they just love, or if they just paid out the nose to go see Lady Gaga. I don’t care about their latest dramas with their boyfriend or what they thought of Glee yesterday. I don’t care about the day to day drones and what they are doing. And yet I listen, politely, quietly, just waiting for an opportunity to bring some kind of awareness or concern, in the hopes that they will join forces with us, become likeminded, and care about what is going on outside of the phone/Xbox/computer/Wii/iPad they call life.

I’m not saying I’m perfect. I’m addicted to Facebook. I have a Droid. I’m on Tumblr. I spend far too much time on the internet, or watching cable news, than I should. I spend far less time out cycling, or hiking or gardening, than I’d like. Sometimes I lose touch with what the “real world,” real life is. And I have to remind myself by turning off the computer and getting my ass outdoors to enjoy my environment.

And that’s okay. We all get lost in the hustle sometimes. But I’d like to think that no matter how technology-ruined I am, that I still care about what is going on around me. You won’t catch me completely clueless and unaware about the things that affect my life and the lives of others. I am extremely educated about politics, I can engage in debate, I know what is going on in the world at any given hour. I read newspapers, I talk about this stuff, and I CARE. Just as I know so many of you beloved readers do.

What I don’t understand is how so many people can just refuse to care. How they can go about their lives day to day without any interest in world events at all. Without caring how their political leaders are affecting their lives RIGHT NOW. This planet is just as much theirs as it is ours, and most of them can’t even point out ten countries on a globe. I just don’t get it. How they can be so happily distracted by the material possessions in this world, the fakery and the utter irrelevance of it all. So yes, I’m mad. Really mad. And I’ve got no clue how to change it.

All I can say is, for those of you that care as I do, thanks for hanging in there. We can change the world, if we stay the course.

4 replies on “Hell Hath No Fury Like My Fury”

I think the huge increase in information has somehow numbed us. Maybe it’s easy to care when all you’re reading is the local paper covering local issues and maybe a few big national or international stories. But what if you’re constantly pummeled with information, abortion here, Egypt there, flooding in Brazil, earthquakes in New Zealand…Glee updates, lunch menus, running logs…you have to filter, and you end up paying more attention to the stuff that actually affects your life, right here, right now. No energy left to think about the future or about faraway strangers.

This is depressing.

I do think information overload plays a part. The amount of info we get, and the spread it covers, is unprecedented. And if you’re uninformed, if you don’t already have friends or family or teachers telling you about current events, or where to get information about it and how to become engaged, it can be really hard to break that wall. Probably similarly to why people are often disconnected from libraries, museums, fresh fruit–they’re not used to them, it’s not part of how they think about the world.

But how did it get that way? I understand why, now that so few people are engaged, the situation is snowballing. But how did that start? Weren’t we engaged before–doesn’t it seem like other countries are *still* engaged, or at least more than we are? The conspiracy theorist in me thinks this was helped along by the wealthy and those in power…

(Also, Raederle, you have a fantastic username and, relatedly, fantastic taste in literature!)

I think your point about the increasing number of disengaged people is an interesting one. It led me to wonder if people are now more uncaring/ignorant/disengaged, or if we’ve just become more aware of their disengagement.

The same things that can cause information overload (social networking, blog comments, news sites, 24hour tv etc. etc.) also expose us almost unremmitingly to others’ (sometimes our relatives and loved-ones) unconsidered opinions, ignorance, and sometimes downright nastiness.

Maybe exactly the same amount of people are disengaged and uncaring as before, but now we’re just more aware of it?

Aw, thanks!

I think disengagement goes hand-in-hand with an increasing anti-intellectualism. In school, the cool kids don’t care about class all that much, and in politics, people accuse each other of being elite as a smear. What happened to our desire to achieve and to be the best?

From another perspective, I also think that the preponderance of media sources and information has made many of us intellectually lazier: it’s easier to read/listen to someone you agree with than someone you don’t agree with. And given that modern life is busier and more complicated than ever, maybe it’s understandable that people are choosing to let their critical thinking skills slide. But it’s very, very unfortunate for society.

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