Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"She harbors no illusions and she's worldly-wise."

The Song: "Cynical Girl," Marshall Crenshaw. Words & music by Marshall Crenshaw. Track 4 of This is Easy: The Best of Marshall Crenshaw, 2000.
When/how acquired: Purchased CD, 2000.
Listen/watch here.

Recent work obligations have required me to go out into a wider Internet community than I usually frequent, and it has dismayed me. Anyone who wants to feel bad about their fellow human beings need only pull up the comments section of any major news site, but even communities of the like-minded seem full of people just looking for opportunities to feel slighted, insulted, disrespected, undervalued and outraged.

After a day or two among these people, the only conclusion I've been able to reach is that people just like to feel that way. I don't know why it's taken me so long to figure this out. It explains so much, everything from Glenn Beck to Keith Olbermann. It explains the Crusades. It explains the Church Lady, though I feel obligated to remind people that the Church Lady is supposed to be funny.

Here's my theory about this (as usual, I have a theory). Outrage and offense require doubt. If people were truly comfortable and confident in their own beliefs, what would it matter what anyone else thinks? Why would they need to attack anyone else's beliefs? Why couldn't they just proceed, wrapped in the comfort of their own self-righteousness?

The people shouting loudest are the people who secretly suspect they're wrong, or feel guilty about their actions or positions, and are terrified about their uncertainty.

I want to live in a world where everyone starts the day by accepting the possibilities that they are wrong, and that other people mean well. I think this will require spending much less time online.

I don't want to be worldly-wise. I'd like to keep a few illusions. I don't want to be a Cynical Girl.


Anonymous said...

Lave your brain by spending quality time reading through the comments on Onion AV Club Newswire items:

-- Ed

Claire said...

I will caution you that even there, you're going to find someone suggesting that "Rihanna deserved it."

But yes. I stay away from unmoderated comments these days. I'm too easily trolled.

Chris in St. Louis said...

Love this song. Great song.

Although I feel very cynical, I also am surprised when people are dishonest or mean. So maybe I am not.

The song makes me a bit sad today because it reminds me of a good friend -- also a Hoya -- who is no longer with us.

AnswerGirl said...

I think it's hard to be truly cynical if you're a practicing Catholic, Chris. "Cynical" and "realistic" are not the same thing.

Chris in St. Louis said...

"I think it's hard to be truly cynical if you're a practicing Catholic, Chris. "Cynical" and "realistic" are not the same thing."

Maybe so. A fine distinction for my blunt mind.

Cynical: 1. Believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity.

Sounds like the doctrine of original sin. Humanity is fallen, prone to evil. Naughty. Ill behaved. Incorrigible. Wicked.

If we are fallen, that would make Christ humanity's celestial EMT, I guess. (cue the rimshot)

I must go listen to some Pink Floyd now. Adios.

AnswerGirl said...

This is exactly the kind of thing I mean:

People bickering about seating arrangements at a FUNERAL! And then, of course, there's the horror of any comments section on the NY Post.

There's a great line in the Claudia Shear play "Blown Sideways Through Life," which my friend Carla used to quote all the time. The main character (Claudia) goes to a party and obsesses about how other people are treating her, what they're thinking of her, etc., etc. Her friend just steps back and says, "It ain't about you, Clo. It ain't that kind of a party."

99.9% of the time, it ain't about us, folks. It ain't that kind of a party. We're all allowed to star in our own life stories, but should never assume that we're starring in anybody else's.