Monday, May 24, 2010

Our Problems and our ADD

So right now, we are looking at the biggest environmental disaster ever to hit the US. The scope of the BP oil spill in the gulf is ridiculous, we don't even know how big it is going to be, but we know that right now it is massive, growing and as yet unstoppable. Yet, we are not hearing that much about it ... there are (or were, now no one seems to want to say that the spill is not bad) a lot of stories that it is not that bad, and others that tout BP's active anti-publicity campaign. But I think the big problem is our ADD about bad things. We simply don't want to hear about bad things day-in and day-out. Its why we are still at war in Iraq ... even though the majority of Americans are unhappy with the war, even though Obama campaigned on ending the war and now the vast majority of us no longer want to be there ... we cannot maintain focus long enough to muster our massive, collective angst and push to get out.

When I think back to many of the major problems we have had, the pattern is the same, intense interest followed by rapidly waning interest which is mirrored in a declining number of stories and news casts featuring said problem. Did things used to be like this when we did not have such a 24/7 media culture? I feel like the protests against Vietnam were larger and more cohesive for much longer, but it could just be my Gen X imagination. Is it just that we are so distracted but the next iPad or Twitter or other shiny new thing that we forget the important stuff, or is it active avoidance of unpleasantness?

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