As much as I love the internet, Youtube makes me question the very idea of democracy. Literally, it causes me to cast suspicion on the very foundation of our government and society. Because at the heart of it, Youtube is an ultimately democratic media platform. Anyone can upload video, and anyone can offer a critique of that video. Now, there are certainly some class-specific barriers to entering this dialogue. The ownership or access to a video camera is certainly one of them. So that does make the playing field somewhat unlevel. But, at least in urban areas, even the homeless can acquire computer access, to they can still enter the dialogue. I liken this to the fact that although any US-born citizen can run for president, the financial and practical considerations prevent many from doing so. But everyone can participate in democracy by voting.
So what I’m saying is that now more than ever, everyone has the opportunity to make his or her voice heard. Or, at least the chance to add his/her voice to the conversation. But the dirty secret of the internet is this: Most people don’t have anything to say. Do me a favor. Go to http://www.youtube.com and search “dog fart.” I did, for science. The first three clips (out of nearly 5,000 total!!!) have approximately 4,000,000 total views. Now, these are not all videos of dogs farting. Some of them are footage of dogs reacting to when people fart. Which is, to me. worse. Are you telling me that Michael Vick can’t encourage two dogs to do combat perro a perro (Spanish for “dog to dog”), but a guy can fart in a dog’s face while millions of people watch and do nothing?
Here’s the kicker. If you read the comments for some of these videos, which I did, for science. You will come across one left by a user named folkjosh11, who, for the record, is not me. Now, folkie left a simple, one-word comment. “Brilliant.” Now, maybe he’s being hyperbolic, but “brilliant?” It’s a dog being scared of a person’s fart. That’s just a fight or flight response. There’s nothing premeditated there. This isn’t a dog who can write his own name. Or even a dog who can fart his own name. This is just a dog’s reptilian response to hearing a startling noise.
What worries me is that in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Americans used a collaborative effort to communicate on a mass scale in order to convince the government to withdraw from Vietnam. Now, with our military fighting two wars and more tools than ever at our fingertips, we choose to use our power to laud the brilliance of farting at a dog. Or calling everything else “gay.”
And I know what you’re thinking: “Josh, you sure are offering some insightful social commentary today on your normally hamburger-oriented blog. You’re really holding a mirror up to society, specifically some guy’s butt and his dog’s face. But what can I, the common blog reader do about it?”
Well, team. There’s no simple answer. But I would like to offer a suggestion. Let’s all write a letter today (whenever you read this). Let’s do some thoughtful analog communication. Here’s the twist, though. No stipulations. You can say anything you want to anyone you want. I still think if you take the time to write something, address an envelope, and walk it to a mailbox, you have put in enough thought that it’s probably worthwhile. If you want to write to your grandma and tell her that you love her…go for it. If you would prefer to write to Friendly’s and tell them that you find their clown sundaes creepy…get on that. If you want to write a letter to a dog telling it that it reacted brilliantly to a person farting (or to a person, telling him that he farted brilliantly at a dog)…there is no hope for you. Just put on “Two and a Half Men” and enjoy not thinking ever.
But for everyone else, let’s say things we mean instead of just hitting LOL [REPLY].
A Cranky Old Man