Vail Daily column: It’s a matter of perspective (and timing)
1960s: “America as we know it will soon cease to exist!”
I remember my grandfather saying this due to the Red Scare (damn commies).
1970s: “America is no longer the great country it once was, and now it’s too late to do anything about it!”
My father, because of the Arab Oil Embargo and having to wait in line to buy gas.
1980s: “Make the money while you can before our American house of cards comes crashing down and we all find ourselves fighting each other for food and shelter!”
This was said by a man I worked for in Dallas, just prior to moving to Happy Valley.
1990s: “The man will do whatever it takes to remain in office in order to entrench his dictatorship and further his socialist agenda!”
My father, again, in reference to Bill That-Is-Not-My-Blue-Dress Clinton.
2000s: “It’s the end of America! My country is gone! It’s all conservatives’ fault!” A few years later, “It’s all liberals’ fault! Buy gold and save yourself before the dollar collapses! Buy your guns and ammo while you can, before the revolution begins!”
MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, YouTube, Pinterest, 24-hour Cable News Networks and our never-ending supply of instantaneous information regardless of actual facts spout these types of statements.
From Nixon and Watergate to Hillary and Trump, what makes today’s world different is simple: technology, and the information it helps spread around the globe in mere seconds.
We now have more cell phones than people, with most having cameras ready to record and share “events” with the world without hesitation, and this, in my opinion, is the single most defining characteristic of how our world is viewed today as opposed to past decades.
And what makes it even more difficult for the general public to digest is the technological abilities to edit all of that video and photos in order to skew perspectives to fit preconceived narratives, thus attempting to alter viewpoints and opinions in a particular direction.
And for some reason many continue to act surprised each time it happens, which is now daily.
There is nothing clever about simple editing, as it’s all just a matter of basic skills and timing. The same video clip can be edited to “prove” an officer was culpable in the shooting of an unarmed victim or that the unarmed victim was moments away from harming the officer or bystanders.
Editing photos is even easier, as a fifth-grader knows how to manipulate the words on a protest sign from “God hates fags” to “God hates flags.”
We see what the editor wants us to see. We have always been dealing with inflation, unemployment, interest rates, gas prices, man-made tragedies, natural disasters, cops killing unarmed citizens, armed citizens ambushing cops, rioters taking advantage of peaceful protests, crooked politicians, racists, bigots and innocent people dying for senseless reasons.
We always will.
America, along with the rest of the world, including the Middle East, is no more violent than it’s ever been, only today we are exposed to it on a much higher, daily — even hourly — level.
Keeping this in perspective without resorting to violent overreactions, especially by those intent on taking advantage of the situation for political or religious gain, will always be the key to maintaining civility.
And always keep that camera/phone handy, just in case.
Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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