Monday, June 10, 2013

This is Obama's Legacy

While I know that my voice is small and insignificant, while I know very few care about my thoughts, I feel the need to speak on this. I feel the need if for no other reason than to simply add one more spit of fuel to a fire that desperately needs to grow. I speak in the hope that this fire may engulf the nation and burn away that which needs to burn.

I never had hope. I never expected change. I never expected this. I never expected a president who, time and again, has proven himself the equal of George W. Bush in almost all matters. His failure has been spectacular. And while he has had some high-profile successes, such as Obamacare, and for these many of my progressive friends have given him props, I was reading about his constant and persistent failures in the journals and articles on civil rights, copyright, freedom of speech, and equal rights. I was reading about the small, operational decisions that most people don't care about. For me, this blowup over the NSA was, for lack of a better word, expected.

Osama Bin Laden should be proud. He didn't destroy the U.S. like he, for some reason, thought he would. Instead, thanks to fear mongering politicians, an idiotic populace, and two presidencies headed by men without scruples, he has managed to cause us to build what is perhaps the infrastructure to the greatest police state the world has ever known.

The U.S. is obviously not currently a police state. Progressive activists will point to certain elements of it that are similar to it -- be it police abuse, overreaching government, the TSA, or institutional bigotry -- but on the whole, the U.S. is decently free. But we are on a precipice. The slope is not nearly as slippery as conservative wingnuts would have you believe, but we have spent the past thirteen years, slowly but surely, walking down that slope. And now, here we are, further down that slope that many probably suspected we were.

It was an overused phrase during Bush's reign, and perhaps we are all still weary of it, but I will repeat it anyhow, in its non-paraphrased form. They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Friday, June 07, 2013

I Have Stopped Reading The News

I give up. I'm waving the white flag. I simply can't take the punishment anymore.

I am, of course, referring to the news. I used to get my news via MyYahoo!, which actually provided me a degree of protection of which I was unaware. It did it by being a really poor product. Feeds would fail to load on a regular basis, refreshes wouldn't happen, and the overall speed was pretty slow. This forced a restrictor on the flow of news from the various services to my eyeballs. This meant that, on any given day, I would only be exposed to a small handful of big news stories that reminded me that the world is shit.

Unfortunately, Google had to go and upset my little arrangement. A couple of months ago, Google announced that Google Reader was getting shut down. This caused everyone who had been using it to make the jump to another program called Feedly, which became an instant superstar. Out of curiosity, I made the jump from MyYahoo! to Feedly, and ho. Lee. Crap. The feeds to which I'm subscribed produce over five-hundred posts per day. I would spend hours just digging through the headlines, much less reading them. I was completely unaware of how much stuff is written. Billions of words, every day, efficiently being dumped into a list of stories that, no matter how fast I read, never seemed to empty. There was always more to read.

This alone would have been enough to overwhelm me. The subject matter, though, was what pushed me over the edge.

From my analysis of news stories over the past two months, I feel safe in concluding that the world is, and I believe that this is a scientific term, fucked. Like, really fucked. There is no place on Earth that isn't fucked. If the government is alright, then that country can expect to be turned into a burnt cinder by global warming. If the environment is alright, the government is set on being as bad as possible. If neither of those things are bad, then the economy is shit. And in all places, at all times, corporations are trying to destroy us all.

The first thing that I stopped reading was Alternet. I like the website. I think that it is a useful website. But the constant outrage -- the fact that no matter where you look there is extreme injustice -- I just couldn't take it.

The next thing that I stopped reading was Salon, another progressive website that is lighter on the injustice than Alternet, but still depressing enough to drive me into the arms of a warm coffee for comfort and a blank wall for entertainment.

After that, website after website fell. I lost interest in my gadget websites because everything on them is being manufactured by slave labor in shit-hole countries. I stopped reading about cars because gas costs $4,345.92 per gallon. I stopped reading economics news because no matter our education level, we are doomed to a future of poor pay and no free time. I stopped reading foreign policy news because other countries suck, and the U.S. sucks, and when the two combine it's like speed and kinetic energy -- double the country count and you don't double the suckiness, you actually quadruple it.

These trials and tribulations did provide one positive thing, though, and that is a new perspective. Currently, progressive media has a problem: very few people read it, and even though the Internet is overflowing with options for news, the majority of people get there news from a small number of sources. Before this experience, I was as puzzled as everyone else. I am no longer puzzled.

Not only is it freaking difficult to actually access with some acceptable speed all of the stories being published every day, but the subject matter is so universally depressing that it turns people into shell-shocked zombies, incapable of integrating further news in any meaningful way. To truly know what's going on is to feel depressed and powerless. There are so many wrongs that need righting, and those in power, nearly them all, couldn't care less. It is a war with a thousand fronts. It is overwhelming.

Since I stopped reading the news, I've been able to get more work done. I haven't been much happier, because I still know that nearly unfathomable injustice is being perpetrated whether I know about it or not. I have been more capable of dealing with that, though. Seeing the photos of this or that catastrophe would sap every bit of emotional energy that I had. I would simply sit there, unable to do anything.

I'd imagine that I will go back at some point. I care too much and think it too important to never go back. But for now, at this point in my life, when things are so difficult, I simply can't. I can't be made aware of the events because I cannot help but care. I cannot turn off my empathy and sympathy mechanisms. When exposed to certain stimuli, they activate, and on many days, it cripples me. I cannot afford to be crippled.