Annabelle Gurwitch: America the Extroverted?
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
I'm Alex Chadwick, back with DAY TO DAY, where contributing writer Annabelle Gurwitch sneers at all the extroversion of our contemporary lives: the obsession with celebrity, television as confessional, blog as public diary. Yes, Annabelle sneers even as she finds herself reveling in this.
Yes, sadly, I have fallen prey to what I refer to as `celebrity slowing,' a horrible affliction gripping this nation that is a close relative of `spectator slowing,' the term that refers to the inability to turn away at the scene of a car accident. We cannot seem to avert our attention from the minute and lurid details of the lives of celebrities.
Now I first noticed this need to share everything with the public even before Bennifer One held this nation's intelligence hostage. It was right after the tragedy unfolded at Columbine High School, and, as I remember it, several of the parents were quoted as saying they had done interviews on TV as a way of finding closure. Now I'm not trying to judge the grieving rituals of others, especially people who have lost children in such a horrible way, but I remember thinking at the time, `Didn't people used to talk to God, their spiritual advisers, write in diaries to find closure?' Now we need to go on television. It's as though if it's not televised, it might not have any meaning. As a culture, we no longer value privacy or private thought.
And so the weekly drumbeat of `Will Katie and Tom marry?' and `Are they pregnant yet?' and `Does she just love loving Tom?' will probably soon turn into an hourly update, then a minute-by-minute accounting of their day! Wait, wait! This kind of thing exists already with ordinary Americans; it's called the blogosphere. There's just so much blah, blah, blogging going on.
But all this is just a symptom of what I believe is a larger problem: No one believes in the future. If Tom Cruise really thought about the future of his relationship, perhaps, well, just perhaps, he would think twice about declaring his love in public after a mere eight weeks of dating. But who cares about that? It feels good now! And who cares about the quality of thought going into the spewings of opinions on the blogosphere? It's so great to get published right away!
And it is the same reasoning that our president is employing trying to enlist the youngest Americans to privatize Social Security. They can't imagine ever getting that old. That future is too far away. I know when I was 17, I could never imagine, say, losing more than half my pension because of a downturn in the market, something that actually happened to me a few years ago. So celebrity slowing, the blah-blah-blogosphere, Social Security reform, all part and parcel of the same instant-gratification culture which we have sacrificed our most private moments and thoughts in creating.
My epiphany regarding all this came one day last week. I was walking through Washington Square Park and I overheard a man engaged in a deep philosophical conversation on his cell phone about the nature of God, politics and the intersection of the two. He sounded really intelligent, and so I decided to ask him a question--I love talking to random people on the street. But as I got closer, I realized he was speaking into a Cinnabon. Uh-huh, a Cinnabon. So I would argue that we could all benefit from a little less spewing and a little more internal reflection, or we run the risk of becoming, to quote a writer whose work was crafted to last, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
CHADWICK: Longing for just a little more mystery in life, contributing writer Annabelle Gurwitch.
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CHADWICK: I'm Alex Chadwick. DAY TO DAY continues in a moment.
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