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Monday, April 7, 2014

Living in a mental Porta-Potty


Every experience that we live through changes us. Sometimes it's major like a near death accident, an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, flood, mugging, rape, et cetera, but usually our daily experiences change us very little. However, keep in mind that many little changes in a particular direction can move us quite a long way.

Why are we the way we are? Why do we believe what we do? Do you have a bad temper? Do you find yourself angry or jealous at the success of some particular person? Are you romantically attracted to a certain type of human ideal and are you conversely, repelled by normal aberrations from that ideal? When you find yourself in an antagonistic situation, do you try to deescalate the tension or do you exacerbate it?

Our genetic predisposition is certainly a major component defining who we are, but experiences during our lives further refine and define us just as much as our genetic pattern. For example, even a champion bloodline could nevertheless result in a horse that never crosses the finish line first, because of mistakes in training. Our genes and our experiences define us. If you were raised from infanthood by a pack of wolves instead of a human family you would be ... well you'd be pretty messed up. Meanwhile a wolf pup raised by a human family would probably end up as a loveable and gentle family pet.

Everything we experience leaves a mark on our psyche. So why do we allow the constant mind-pollution of popular entertainment to continually scar us emotionally? You wouldn't want to live in a public restroom, even with free rent, bed and a television set. The smells and noises coming from the stalls would change you—would warp you! The experience would make you bitter and angry ... here comes another drunk with diarrhea. Why me?

Easter is coming up, and with it, another loud and boisterous family gathering where relatives and friends get together to eat and talk. The women will be gossiping quietly in little groups of three and four, while the men—ten to fifteen—will all be where the big television is portraying the obligatory playoffs of the NFL, the NBA, or perhaps Major League Baseball. For Thanksgiving we'll watch football. For Christmas and Easter it will be basketball, and on Independence Day it will be baseball.

I, on the other hand, will be in neither a small huddle of women pondering the latest on-going Nancy Grace missing person case, nor perched on the last available corner of a cushion in the den, held spellbound by the mind-numbing intricacies of overpaid athletes risking their lives—or at the very least their livelihoods—in a contest of both skill and chance. I an completely uninterested in runs batted in, errors, rushing yards, passing yards, offensive rebounds and personal fouls.

My kind of entertainment is fictional. Imaginary characters experiencing unimaginable difficulties and surviving through will power, a whole lot of luck, and maybe a little magic. One of my favorite writers—George R.R. Martin—has become phenomenally successful and his book series—A Song of Fire and Ice—has been serialized on television using the name of the first book: Game of Thrones. While the television version has it's appeal, I'm a little put off by the in-your-face sexual escapades of all the characters. These constant pornographic goings-on might be implied or suggested in the novels but on TV they've made it downright raunchy, and usually quite disturbing. It's like a cut of juicy steak served in a dirty ashtray. I wouldn't say it's ruined, but Game of Thrones has a whole new flavor that I find a little off-putting.

There is another kind of entertainment that constantly plays in the background of our lives. Music is playing in stores, during television shows, with jingles in advertising, in movies, at baseball games, et cetera. The funny thing about music is that it can manipulate people emotionally without them even being consciously aware of it happening. The simplest and most obvious example is the jarring hair-raising discordant music playing before the cat leaps out of the closet in a horror flick.

My favorite music is melodic and peaceful. I don't like the bass driven rhythmic monotone rhyming of hip-hop. I also don't like the pointless guitar solos, pointless auto-tuner mangled lyrics, and endlessly repeated refrains of pop music.

I focus on advertising as I would on the tricks of an adversary. Play your jingle, and chant your asinine corporate slogan and I will fight back with a chant of my own. No, I wouldn't want to be an Oscar Meyer wiener, but I have an idea what you guys can do with one.

One of the most dangerous things people do everyday, is ride around in a one or two ton hunk of plastic and steel—with ten to twenty gallons of incredibly flammable accelerant on board—traveling at speeds that would terrorize a cheetah. This doesn't sound too smart when you think about it. Society doesn't want you impaired or distracted while piloting these incredibly dangerous machines. No driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and no talking on the phone or texting while driving.

Presumably, if government could ever enact the desired legislation, eating a two-handed triple cheeseburger or a bowl of soup while driving would be similarly verboten. Therefore it's with some confusion that I wonder why the car radio is not under similar scrutiny. I've often heard cars coming before they were visible. How can someone experiencing that kind of distraction be considered unimpaired?

While my own experience is merely an anecdote and certainly not proof of anything, I can tell you with absolute conviction that the background music playing in my car affects my driving style. With rock or country music playing I find that I'm a more aggressive impatient driver. Furthermore, an endless stream of radio commercials makes me tense and uncertain. My solution is Vangelis Radio when I'm driving and a great book when I'm relaxing. Society is more deranged, violent, perverted, jealous, angry and sad than ever before and it's no wonder, since we've all been living inside a main-stream-media created mental Porta-Potty for most of our lives.

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