Vail Daily column: Of mice and men |

Vail Daily column: Of mice and men

Don Rogers
My View
Don Rogers
Laura Mahaffy/ | The Union

Kobe provided the definitive lesson around here.

Remember that he had a pristine image before he sneaked into our valley for secret knee surgery in summer 2003. Other than some spatting with the Los Angeles Lakers’ top dog, Shaq, the public Kobe was the well-spoken anti-thug NBA star who didn’t even sport tats.

This unraveled when a local girl stole into his hotel room in Cordillera and experienced a lot more than she bargained for.

We admire our celebrities to our peril. This is the lesson that repeats like the laundry.

Now it’s Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson leading a host of NFL players who surprise, surprise have less than exemplary lives off the field.

Domestic abuse has taken the spotlight after decades of ho hum; there’s another one but what’s the spread on the next game?

Movie stars, politicians, athletes, all manner of celebrities perform in this spectacle — build ‘em up, tear ‘em down, let some resurrect themselves and others rot.

Kobe never got back to squeaky clean. Now he’s the ultracompetitor, the reigning badass with far more cred among the players than he had as the well-scrubbed post-game quote. Mistakes might have been made in the past. But that’s the past.

I know, I know. This is all about the media storylines that play the same three-chord tune over and over, a cliche that never wears out.

But it’s also about you. Well, you meaning the millions, maybe billions, who follow this stuff.

We’re hardwired for gossip every bit as much as “fight or flight” responses even though we’ve evolved thousands of years beyond little wandering hunter-gatherer packs. The civilizing influences on our species have run less than 1 percent of our time on Earth, according to the science if not some scriptures, and so traits that helped us once with survival plague us now with an ongoing fascination with trivia.

We’re mice riding elephants comparing our logic to our instinct. Our conceits otherwise are laughable.

Not that modern humans lack logic. Hopefully, I believe we’re growing fast here, though not exactly at the pace of Moore’s law with computer power doubling every 18 months since we had computers.

Logic dictates we recognize we have plenty of instincts that we’ve outgrown. At least I hope we’ve outgrown the need to hear about Justin Bieber’s, um, episodes while growing up a spoiled brat and make judgments about that.

Our brains collect information and form conclusions this way. We’re masters of turning scraps of gossip into “facts” we act on. If you spend 10 seconds thinking about this, it’s easy to understand why.

Even in our little packs there was too much information to gather first-hand and decide what to do quickly enough to promote survival. Now, forgetaboutit. Information streams in blizzards, fully 99 percent of it second hand. Quick now, what are you concluding and doing?

Our incredible ability to discern in fog advances us individually and as a species. We just have some side effects, such as all too readily mistaking skill in a narrow band as the whole person and extending admiration to at least low-grade worship. And then confusion and disappointment in a paragon’s inability to live up to earlier hype.

We do this over and over again.

Just watch when Ray Rice, the star Baltimore Ravens running back who caused such disgust when a video turned up that showed him knocking his then-fiancee (now wife) unconscious with a punch to the face, is resurrected to the point that those 7,000 fans who turned in their shirts with his name on them clamor someday to buy anew.

Ah humans. We’re still such mice.

Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at & 970-748-2920.

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