As election time approached last year, I began to feel that the general American population was finally wising-up to the fact that we are in a tough time and that we, the people, need to take the reins. We realized that we were approaching a major economic crisis, that were in a war we may not be able to win, and that our “leader” had led us astray over the past 8 years. Americans, it seemed, were aware that international relations were weak and that many people across the world who used to adore and envy us, were now disgusted with the American people.
On the night of the election, as they announced that Barack Obama had won, I felt an overwhelming feeling of emotion and relief. As millions of Americans celebrated in Grant Park that night, the American people made a bold statement to the citizens of the world that the last 8 years were not our choice, and that we were going to make things right. Obama won the election less because of his political party and more for his ambition to “fix the world” and for everything that he stood for. It became clear that “Change had come to America”.
Almost 6 months later, I am sad to announce that at least partially, we were all sorely mistaken. In the past few days, the economy still teeters in the balance, issues of Universal Health Care are on the tips of everyone’s tongues in Washington, and the Iranian people flood the streets of Tehran in an effort to continue their fight for democracy. All the while, as I look to Google News’ “Most Popular “, what is it that tops the list??? What is the most read article on Google? What is it that Americans are the most concerned about? Apparently it is the divorce of Jon and Kate Gosselin from “Jon & Kate Plus 8.”
Are you kidding me!? As the President is being heavily criticized for his leniency toward Ahmadinejad‘s handling of the situation in Iran, we, the people, are not only watching “Jon & Kate Plus 8” but are actively sitting at our computer and reading articles detailing their divorce, more often then we are doing so for the international crisis in Tehran.
“This must be a mistake”, I think to myself, as I decide to double check it by looking at the most popular video’s on Youtube for the day… Surely it is some riot footage or CNN coverage on the situation in Iran. Perhaps it is the video of Neda Solton, the 26-year old Iranian woman who was shot down on the streets of Tehran and who’s death was captured on a cell-phone camera. Just as CNN has put out warnings that “The Footage You Are About to See Is Extremely Graphic and May Not Be Suitable For Some Viewers”, I feel that I need to preface my reveal of the top videos on Youtube with a similar warning… “The Sentence You Are About To Read May Disgust You and Make You Want to Move to a Country More In Tune with Reality”… The top 2 video’s on Youtube are the Adam Lambert and KISS Duet from the American Idol Finale and some new video of Youtube character “FRED”.
Now, I understand that these sites are not solely American sites and thus it does not speak only of Americans and our cultures… However, if you think that it is not almost entirely Americans who are watching the “Jon & Kate Plus 8”, “Adam Lambert & Kiss Duet” and “FRED” videos, give me a break.
What does this say about our culture? We live in a tough time right now, and I get that. It is perfectly normal to watch television for entertainment purposes (as you will learn, I am a huge music, TV, and movie buff). We all need a break and to kick back and forget about our problems from time to time. The problem is that these are the MOST WATCHED shows and clips of the day. During the election, if you went to Youtube, it was almost impossible to find a clip that was NOT related to the election in the first 5 pages of the most popular clips. People were so engulfed with the problems that we faced and the need to find a new leader to fix everything that we simply couldn’t get enough.
What this tells me is that we have forgotten, to an extent, what it means to be an American, and the principles on which this country was founded. We came together after 9/11, in crisis, and helped to build back up America. We came together at election time to find a leader that most of us thought could lead us out of this… and then we bailed. We changed the channel. This country does not work that way. We don’t’ get to wake up to our problems every 4 years at election time, pick somebody to “fix our problems” and then leave it in their hands until the next election.
If you don’t want to write a blog to do your part, then don’t. If you don’t want to take to the streets to help protest the resistance in Iran, don’t. If you don’t want to sit down and watch entire news programs all day every day to keep up with what is happening in the world and not just in your own little box, then don’t… But for Heaven’s sake, can you not read a 1 page news article or watch some news summary clips to stay somewhat informed about the world? I don’t expect “CNN World News” to be the top show on television right now. I’m talking about Google News and Youtube. Anybody, even with the worst case of ADD in the world can sit down and read a 1-page news article or watch a 2-minute youtube clip.
This is the type of closed-off, out of touch mentality that everyone else in the world sees in Americans. It is time that we wake up and take some responsibility ourselves, and not just leave it in the hands of law-makers and government officials.
For those of you who stay informed, and do your part, however small, good for you. To everyone else… shame on you. We all have to live in this world and all of us have to wake up every day and look at ourselves in the mirror and realize that we are responsible for the world we are passing on to future generations. Most of you who are reading this blog probably live in a decent home, with running water and electricity. We never go hungry and we never have to worry about whether we could die from riots in the streets or car-bombs going off on our morning commute. The least we can do is be thankful for what we have and who we are. If we’re going to complain about our problems, we need to tune in and take action… more then for a few months every four years. Step up. Speak your mind, and please, take a break from “Jon & Kate Plus 8”. Even if it’s just during the commercials… It is the least we can do.