Friday, March 02, 2007

Just a moment.

In as much as, by nature, a blog is some kind of open journal at least, or forum for conversation at best, I have restrictions on it. I try to keep this a collection of my thoughts and experiences specific to triathlon. Which, because triathlon pervades a lot of the rest of my mind, spirit, soul, and body, does sometimes lend to tangents about how I feel in general. Or what I'm processing. Or something I'm learning. But still, I mean to share with you here only what fits into that context, with the occasional post about my dog or my adventures in getting a haircut notwithstanding. I choose this, because for me it's not important or appropriate to air or share anything else in this space. I think I sufficiently share who I am here, but with intentional boundaries.

I have tuned out of some formerly frequented blogs because they got suddenly weird. And comments would turn into flame wars. And entire conversations would get vague and confusing, the way it might when people start discussing politics at a Super Bowl party. And I'd read and think - wait - why am I reading this again? Didn't I subscribe to this channel because I was interested in the common bonds shared between endurance athletes? Somebody pass the chips.

Which is not to say that anybody's not totally welcome in their sphere to talk about whatever the hell they want. It's their space. Go crazy. Do as you wish. Yet, as often, that reasoning rings hollow for me. It removes from the author any responsibility to demonstrate an awareness of situation. Sure you can talk politics at your Super Bowl party. If you want. It's your house. But I came to watch football. So. Is the dip all gone? Ah. Well then, hello, I must be going.

So, all of that was a very winded preamble to this: I have something I feel like saying out loud. It has nothing to do with triathlon. It may be the only time I do this, because I am not a dramatic person. I only sometimes choose introspection, and in fact I'm not a soapbox person at all. I am a very direct person. I am honest and can be very outspoken. Sometimes opinionated. But not at the expense of anybody else. I am zealous of nothing. I am suspicious of a cause. Which is why when the conversation tends to tilt that way, I find something better to do.

What I'm saying is - nothing like that is happening here. I'm not hijacking Becoming Ironman and its purposes to either of us. I just have this one thing. It'll take two minutes. I feel like telling you about this, and I hope that's okay. Tune out now if you like, I won't be offended at all.

What I have to say is this: I choose now, this day, this moment, to remove myself from making entertainment of people's pain. Secondly, I remove myself from the perpetuation of the meaningless.

Point one: This actually comes from something I said last week, or the week before, in a post that isn't memorable, where I said something about how nobody seems to tell Britney Spears that she can't wear that outside the house. And then later I made a joke about how being her hairstylist is cheap work if you can get it. They were totally incidental quips, just off-hand remarks. But actually - I've been feeling really bad about it in the days since. Because whatever she has or has not been created to be, or chosen to be, or however the machinery of the famousphere has dealt with her, she's a human being. And she seems to be going through something terrible, but with cameras in her face. And I'm not comfortable feeling like I contributed to that. In fact, I'd like to say that I'm sorry. It was wrong of me to make jokes about a situation I do not understand. I don't have that right just because she's a public person.

This became accute, I realize, when I came across some of the same photos I'm sure you've seen, where this woman is having a complete meltdown while surrounded by cameras. It was actually sickening. That nobody said, "can I help you?", but instead just...documented the wreckage. flashflashflashflashflashflashflash. Like a scared, cornered creature in a strobe light. And they with shocked can-you-believe-this grins, and dollar signs in their eyes.

I feel sensitive to this.

Point two: Today I read where the Associated Press made a decision a few weeks ago to, as an experiment, to simply not cover Paris Hilton. Good lord I promise you, words I never thought you'd read in this blog include Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Anyway, the AP thought - what if, instead of saying, "well, we have to publish it because we see that those guys over there are, what if we just...don't." They didn't, they said, do it out of an assumption that the American readership should or could be focusing on other, perhaps more important or substantial things. They didn't do it as an exercise in criticism or sociology. They just thought - maybe this isn't really news, what happened at the nightclub she was at last night. The result - most people didn't care. People just...didn't notice. And those that did, after it was leaked about the experiment, seemed to applaud it.

Meanwhile, there is the death of Anna Nicole Smith. (Ding! Third collection of syllables never before uttered in this space). The outrageousness of everybody surrounding the situation - and I have not followed this at all, I've simply been unable to escape it - has seemed to sterilize that this was a person. A mother. A person that somebody out there I'm sure cared deeply for as a human being, independent of whatever celebrity status for which she was or was not acclaimed. She died suddenly. Her life, whatever it was, has since been reduced to Her Death. And even that has been reduced to An Event.

I am very uncomfortable with this.

Somewhere, real people out there are mourning, and grieving, and hurting. And I will choose to not be privy to the reduction of those processes to sound bites and controversy and sensationalism.

Celebrity in this country has abducted us. I am inundated with photographs, cell phone video, paparrazi shots, blogs, magazines, opinions, snapshots, television shows, snippets, soundbites, etceteras ad nauseum, about people and situations that are not important to me. That waste my time and resources and energy. Whose economies revolve around the misfortune of others. Meanwhile, the Vice President's Chief of Staff is on trial, there is genocide in Darfur, and my friend is being redeployed to Iraq for a second time. I realize that things in this country have seemingly skewed so that the latter examples are reduced to Page Two. That's a discussion for a forum other than this, but that I think illustrates the abduction I speak of. I will no longer be an accomplice in it. I believe reading it is feeding it.

I love music. There are personalities there that interest me, and people who I am interested in knowing more about as people, to better influence my appreciation for their art. I enjoy certain authors the same way, as well as some scientists and businessmen and businesswomen. But my interest there is not insatiable. I am not saying that the person who subscribes to US Magazine is any better or worse than she that does not. In fact, I make no commentary on anyone in the world here other than me. I am done with it. I'm not clicking the links anymore. I'm picking up Car & Driver in the dentist's office instead of People. I will not press play on the inevitable embedded videos, I will not peruse the photographs. I will leave my computer, I will put down the paper, I will pick up a book instead. I'll go workout, I'll visit your blogs, I'll head to trifuel. I'll check out the latest Apple rumors, I'll await the iPhone, I'll wait for Adobe to go Universal so I can get a new computer. I'll listen to music, I'll visit my favorite artists' websites from time to time to see what's new. I'll still watch Letterman. I'll download Conan when I think of it. But I am drawing my line now. I choose to disengage.

Starting now, I am increasing the signal, and doing away with the noise.

That is all. Thank you for reading. Only time I do this, I promise. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.


Steve S. said...

I'm totally with you.

I didn't know that out the AP. That's great!

Triteacher said...


Anonymous said...

Did you post the Ferguson clip specifically for me?

On another note, it's been confirmed that I am a wuss. Nothing is broken in the foot according to the doc. One of those "strained muscles/ligatments/tendons" in the foot prognosis (what's the plural for that?). Basically rest, ice and Ibuprofen until further notice. Part of me wishes it was something more serious to nail it down with certainty that something is wrong. I HATE the fact that the it just gradually came on and there really isn't a specific prognosis for it.

Moving forward, I guess it's time to hone my swim stroke and strengthen my core.

Robin said...

I'm with you too. I'm usually the oblivious one when conversation turns to celebrities and their various doings. I "just said no" to trivial mind-numbing media a few years ago, and more than anything it is a relief.

I applaud your first resolution too. Our society too often regurgitates the pain of others for amusement. One more reason to surround oneself with people who live positive and joyful lives, and resolve to do so ourselves.