THE BLOG

The Age of Cynicism

The great Victorian author, Edith Wharton, wrote An Age of Innocence in order to evoke a bygone era. While the novel's title was misleading in some degree as it held the same customary elements that might make a modern day novel blush, such a title today would be as dead and buried as any Victorian. We do not live in an era of the sort, unless it is through a child's eyes and to that end, innocence lingers only so long as the child's mindset does and truly, one could never use such a title to describe the era in which we now live.

For the era we live in is one of great cynicism. One might take that declarative sentence as the ultimate in negativity or as one steeped in truth. Cynicism, sadly, is everywhere one looks. It's even in this article. If one is cynical about cynicism, does that make one even more cynical in the end or if two negatives equal a positive, does that make one optimistic?

We elevate our heroes seemingly in order to take them down even quicker. We also over-elevate people who would be considered mediocre in any other era. Maybe we do that so we can take them down easier, I'm not sure. We all have our opinions on who that list might include, whether it's in politics, music, movies, comedy, TV shows, writers and so on. I won't list mine, as that would be, well, cynical and prove my point of the age we live in.

The Internet is a great source of edification as well as defecation, to put it mildly. There are many great resources on the Internet that would have amazed our great grandparents only a few decades back. But there is also a lot of waste of space and whole websites to taking people and things down. If one thinks of a great hero or idol they've always looked up to, be rest assured that there will be a likewise website bashing that very same person as untalented or any number of other negative descriptions.

The Beatles are a prime example. Many people like them. They changed the course of popular music when they hit in the '60s. But there are websites cutting them down, saying how they ruined rock and roll forever and to some extent this country some sites go on to purport. But s in many cases, these websites aren't as popular and aren't as numerous as say, pro-Beatles websites.

But it doesn't have to be Beatles. It could be anything; a car or a type of luggage, species of bird or a flavor of ice cream. Invariably, someone will come out against it. It is the nature of the beast, as it were. We dislike things on the flimsiest protocol or because they're different, whether it's race, sex, religion, weight, disability or any endless number of things. It's only when people become cyber-bullies that it kicks into the next realm of cynicism.

I have a writer friend who get stalked by another writer, although in this case, it's a would-be writer. He spends much of his time apparently trolling and launching diatribes at others and getting into long-winded verbal assaults via text once someone proves him wrong. When someone proves him wrong, it becomes personal. Writing rants on the Internet does not make one a writer and more than shouting on the street corner makes one a public speaker.

Politics has always been the home of the professional mudslinger. But why politicians need to become that cyber bully and personally attack their opponent is beyond me and most Americans. We don't need politicians to give out the opposing candidate's personal info out at rallies. That sort of pathetic pandering and "gotcha moment" doesn't win any votes. That is a lowly form of campaigning. Run on your record but I guess if one doesn't have much of a record to run on, then dirty politics is fair play to them. Has petty vindictiveness has become the new status quo?

Which brings me to the point. This dirty trick has seemed to have worked and has pushed this particular candidate up in the polls even more. Why is this? It is because we live in that cynical age and people see this as guts or political bravado when after all it is, is a poor attempt to disguise political ineptness, as well as social. In proper society where this man is from-as his ego never lets a soul forget it-this sort of misbehavior would get him ostracized from the country club where he belongs, much less a political stage in another era. Just because one is the loudest braggart in the room, it doesn't make him right. It's as if improper behavior has now become acceptable behavior.

We need not to cut each other down. We need to build each other up. We need to get out of our cubicles, greet our neighbors and get to know them and stop hiding behind a computer screen. Get out and see the sun. What sort of world are we building if we only view it from a computer? We need to become human again. We need to have that human connection and not the connection through Internet. I we got to know more and more people in our lives, the world would become a lot smaller. There wouldn't be as much hate and divisiveness, whether politically, religiously or the feel the need to belittle others. We are all worth something. We were taught as children that each person matters. It's time we remember this as an adult.