When Queen Elizabeth died, did you mourn? Because I kept reading, and hearing, the world was mourning. I keep reading, and hearing, Americans are obsessed by Great Britain's royal family. Are you? Anyone you know?
Ever stop for a few minutes to watch the commercials airing during your favorite programs on commercial television (or YouTube or “Free With Ads” Amazon Prime). Ever see a Quarter Pounder deposited in your drive-through bag that looked anything like the perfectly constructed, shiny-bunned (excuse my English) work of perfection in a McDonald's commercial? Same for Wendy's. Burger King. Taco Bell. Good lord, especially Taco Bell!
How about pharmaceutical commercials that air regularly on cable news stations and during NFL games? Happy couples running on a beach, one apparently suffering from some horrible malady or other. Kenny G-ish music playing as the reassuring voice urges you to ask your doctor about Cialis or Lyrica or Chantix.
Ever see the the political ad that prominently utilizes a black and white photo of Biden grimacing while an ominous voice informs you he's the devil? Or the same ad (in principle) with Trump as the central villain? Same for governor or senator or dog catcher.
Ever walk out of a car dealership thinking you got a great deal? There are thousands of hours of commercials, going back decades, that set the stage for that fantasy. Same for the local down-home lawyer whose ambulance chasing is because, uh hmmm, he cares.
All of these tactics are very effective. If they weren't, they'd stop using them. That said, even though we are each far more gullible than we like to think, there is an understanding on a basic level that all this stuff – and the folks who produce it – are, to put it politely, full of beans.
Recently, I clicked on a YouTube video claiming a right-wing political hack DESTROYED a left-wing political hack in a debate. I watched to see the carnage, but both parties left in reasonably good health. I saw the same repeated with the political hacks reversed. Again, minimal carnage to the participants. These videos were posted by, it appeared, everyday citizens – assistant manager at the local supermarket or an accountant or schoolteacher. A mechanic, maybe.
The comforting thing about The Before Times was the snake oil was being sold by professionals. That was their job. They (frequently) went to college or put in years of apprenticeship before being allowed to ply their trade on us, the unwashed masses. They were purveyors of “false promises and overstated claims” as George Carlin once said (referring to a specific segment of our society).
That YouTube video where the sports talk personality OWNS the caller (or the caller OWNS the sports talk personality) might very well be the product of your next-door neighbor. They (the dreaded They) call it democratization. Everyone gets a voice. No minimum standard required. We all get to be Mad Men. A high aspiration in these United States, it appears.
A reasonable person might view this development with alarm. Lots of hyperbole. Exaggeration out the wazoo. Could doom be far away with this person, group or party continuously OWNING other Americans? Lots of OWNING on the internet. That being the case, can any cohesion, continuity or cooperation – needed to live in peace with one another – be maintained over the long haul?
Lest I be hypocritical, the worst of all possible sins I'd say, here I am pontificating from my high horse to you now. I have to or my head is literally going to explode.