Sunday, April 17, 2016

Killing America one selfie at a time

I've never understood the purpose of selfies.  I have hundreds, if not thousands, of photos (none selfies, though) no one cares about.  There's one or two I care about, but the taking up room on my hard drive.  They will undoubtedly meet the fate of the hundreds, if not thousands, of photos on my old computer.  The hard drive will go up and sit in the corner of the room because I'm afraid to throw it out.

Heck, just what is on that old computer anyway?  Oh now that's going to bug me as I write the rest of this article.

Selfies, however, are only a symptom of a much bigger disease killing America: self-centered, selfish narcissism.  Ok, so I was redundant thrice over, but I wanted to emphasize how serious this epidemic is.

Police in Palm Springs, Calif. say two prominent residents were attacked by two men on Sunday night because they are gay.

Well, that's an odd place to quote that news story.

Not really because nothing illustrates the seriousness of my claim that narcissism is killing this country one selfie at a time than the current trend to push for religious freedom restoration acts to protect Christians' expression of religious bigotry.  You know, in the culture of selfies, the individual is more important than what the effect an individual says or does has on others.

For the first time in fifty or so years since the Civil Rights Act was passed, there is a push, predominately from far right conservative Christians, to turn back the hands of time to the days when discrimination was just fine because God ordained it.  The generations that justified slavery by the Good Book raised successive generations that justified Jim Crow laws by the Good Book, and their offspring are now justifying a return to discriminatory practices, but with a twist.  This time, the Good Book isn't exactly being used to justify discriminatory practices.  Since our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and, therefore, the right for the religious to discriminate if they feel the discrimination is in line with their religious beliefs, the right of the religious to discriminate should be protected.

I'm obviously talking about gays and how some Christians, predominately the far right conservative Christians, feel they should be allowed to treat gays.  It started with bakers.  A couple of bakers felt if they baked a wedding cake for a gay couple, their religious beliefs were being violated because they would be participating in a gay wedding.  Some wedding photographers jumped onboard and claimed that they, too, were participating in an event their religion decries. 

Normal people know that if you bake a cake for a wedding, you're not participating in the wedding.  You baking a food item and that's it.  If you take pictures at a wedding, you are not participating in the wedding.  You are documenting an event and that's it.  I mean, really.  Did you bring a wedding gift for the happy couple when you delivered the cake or began snapping pictures or did you simply hold your hand out for money before you delivered your goods and services?  Get a grip, folks.  By your logic, we should go after the car salesman who sold that San Bernardino couple a vehicle since he obviously participated in their terrorist act.  We should go after Mark Zuckerberg for accessory to murder for providing that kid in South Carolina a social media platform to further his racist development and eventual killing spree. 

A gay couple was beaten bloody in one of a string of hate-fueled attacks during Pride weekend in Seattle, authorities said.

What all these people taking to the Internet and making a fuss over their rights fail to recognize is that "those people" they feel they should be allowed to discriminate against have rights, too.  And since America is not a theocracy (thank God), their rights need to be respected. 

Face of a selfie - popular blogger who
regularly rails against anything gay. Only
reference I'll afford him:
But in the age of selfies where one thinks an ugly mug shot with what looks like a house in the background is a real picture of the house, we really can't expect today's population to think past what that selfie means and the possible fifteen minutes of fame it might garner.

Ahh, yes, there's the key - the drive for fifteen minutes of fame.  In the fantasy world of the Internet, a nobody can rise to be a somebody and if they have a good agent, their fifteen minutes of fame can last for years, even if they had no real reason to be in the limelight to begin with.  Don't believe me?  Look at Bieber.  Plenty have been there and done it long before Bieber, so what the heck is he still on the public stage for?  His outlandish acts the media loves to lap up.

Oh yeah, we haven't mentioned the role of the media yet.  So let's.  In the good ol' days, the news media put some miles on the rubber tires of their vehicles and the rubber soles on their feet in search of stories.  Today, they save rubber and look for what's "trending" on social media.

It doesn't matter that what's trending will be forgotten fifteen minutes from now because the people making the story trend have some selfies to take so they can capitalize on the story by driving traffic to their blog or some other venue.  The news media, including all the self-indulgent talk show hosts like Limbaugh, Beck and,...well, all of them with very few exceptions...begin talking about the trending story.  Most people who haven't heard of the story start to think, "Gee, I've been hearing a lot of this.  Maybe I should look into it."  They get online to find out more and instead of the story fading away, it trends some more.  And the vicious cycle continues thanks to the efforts of those trying to gain some fame or money off the story, but not because the story, itself, is even newsworthy.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Jordan Schaeffer still hasn’t recovered from his Miami vacation, when he and his boyfriend were beaten at a BK Whopper Bar in Miami Beach after they kissed.

So all these people looking to drive traffic to their blogs, which translates into money, and all these people looking for their selfie moment, which translates into money - even if it's only through a Go Fund Me plea for help with legal costs - never stop to think what effect their words are having on others.  Oh God no!  Selfies are all about me, me, me and anything that takes away from me needs to be cropped out.

Not to be outdone with the narcissistic selfie trend, some states have jumped on the selfie bandwagon.  In the true selfie mode, it's not that the people of the state had a voice.  Incompetent lawmakers (sorry for the redundancy) decided for themselves that religious bigotry needed to be enshrined in law.  Why not?  If inclusion and equal treatment can be enshrined in law, in the name of fairness, exclusion and discrimination should be enshrined, too, as long as it is to protect the first amendment and the rights of the religious.

Some states, like North Carolina, tries to play the religious bigotry game on the safer side.  They passed the bathroom law, a law that states one must use the bathroom corresponding to the gender stated on their birth certificate.  Always looking for a new job that is challenging and pays more than my current income, I searched job openings for "genitalia checker" in North Carolina.  Guess what?  There is no such job opening.  I suspect that if the bathroom law is ever to be enforced, your local far right, conservative lawmaker will be at the bathroom door checking your genitalia.

Joking aside, let's call all those bathroom laws exactly what they are - an official statement by the local or state government that we don't like transgender people.

Not to be outdone, a couple of states took the bathroom laws a step further.  Now it is legal to deny homosexuals employment, a place to live, and, yes, a wedding cake. 

Somehow, in this selfie society, the bathroom laws and now the religious restoration laws are not punishing gays and transgenders.  The laws are protecting the rights of the religious.

Marquez Tolbert buried his face in his hands. His chest contracted with a stifled sob.  When he looked up, a patchwork of angry red welts became visible on the side of his neck. That’s where he was burned. His T-shirt hid the full extent of his injuries, the swath of scalded skin that now covers his entire back.

And this is the result of the selfie, everything-is-about-me-me-me society: beaten and burned victims of the hateful rhetoric perpetrated by the self-centered, selfish narcissists.

TL;DR Folks:
We have become so self-absorbed, we don't even realize what effect our words and actions have on others any more.  Truly, as a society and a country, we're killing ourselves from within through our self-centered, selfish narcissism. 

For your listening pleasure:

Posted by Five Drunk Rednecks

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