Jul 12, 2011

Sick of Cynicism

Now that heading may seem like an easy thing to say, but I'd ask you to consider that I was born right smack bang in the middle of Gen X. The Simpsons and Southpark were cornerstones of my upbringing. See this guy?
"Pffft Yeah Groovy"

That's me for the first 30 years of my life. But gradually I've been growing away from this kind of thinking, or maybe more accurately, growing tired of it. While Gen X is dwarfed by the numbers in the generations that preceded and follow it I feel this cynicism has to a degree penetrated our culture and is now part of everyday life. Here is a good starting point.

Now I like David Mitchell's comedy a lot, and got a good laugh or two out of this, I would guess he is a fellow Gen Xer and I can relate to his frustrations. But I have to take issue with the underlying idea here that there can't be anything exciting or that improves our lives out what lies ahead. That for the next hundred years or so the human race just needs to bend over and resign its self to a good spanking while we pay the price of climate change.

Do you know what the single ingredient needed to make the challenges ahead of us more about opportunity than oppression is? One thing that can totally change the equation? All we have to do is decide that that's what we are going to make it. Its that frigging simple! Human history is constantly punctuated with occasions where new opportunities and improvement in life have been made out of the need to change, the only reason I can see for anyone thinking it can't happen this time is a lack of imagination and cynicism. Where that comes from I don't really know, laziness maybe, or peer pressure to stay with the mob.

Either way I'm over it and plan to focus on finding ways I can improve my life and help the environment at the same time, I don't accept for a second that they are not there. I have the whole of human history to back me up, what's more I find the prospect of those improvements far more exciting than anything the status quo had to offer me. To relate this back to David Mitchell's video, sure it might be fun for Jeremy Clarkson to drive a truck to the North Pole and sip Martini's, but what he fails to mention is that the old system only offers that kind of activity to the tiniest slither of society while the rest of us work harder for less year after year and look on longingly. That's supposed to be more exciting? Please.

The most unattractive aspect of this entire cynicism thing is the peer pressure. Whether it be Alan Jones/Andrew Bolt cutting down those who are excited or positive about the prospect of changing things via the media, or the kind of criticism anyone trying to get enthused and be proactive is going to face on a more personal level. I've received a few barbs about it, usually in the form of jokes or a tongue in cheek sledge, sometimes from good friends. But even when wrapped in humour this kind of stuff is still designed to change the way you are thinking or acting, to get you back in line. I've grown hyper sensitive to it these days, it is identified (you have to on the lookout, its often camouflaged), critically assessed for any true logical content or home truths that I may need to take on board but are rarely there and then discarded. I'll reserve my use of cynicism for those who vent it in my direction first.

Another important part of this is identifying what needs to change. While the majority still seems determined to be a stick in the mud, I feel we must continue to identify and highlight the things that need changing. On a personal level I must also be willing to put my money where my mouth is, nothing feeds cynicism more that examples of hypocrisy, no matter how isolated and  inconsequential they are.

As I lean towards creative activities and in particular the use of animation, this of course all filters through into my creative aspirations. I've already made stuff inspired by this forming philosophy, I made a whole series for kids in my own time a few years back that was about embracing the new and using your imagination to make the most of it (I can't show it to you because the ABC own it, but it did air in a couple of European countries), but I don't think its out of my system yet. Young kids are easily the most open minded about this sort of thing, cynicism is something they learn from family and the media as they get older. 

I have an idea that's kicking around in my head, I want to say something bold and unapologetically positive. I'm not sure where I'll fit it into my life yet, it might be easier after I make the move to the country (soon I hope). I might elaborate on it in another post.


Clayton McIntosh said...

If you like to read good short stories, look up Ray Bradbury - 'The Toynbee Convector'. It's got the same vibe as this rant.

Ian said...

Run to seize the future..... Nice, thanks Clay :)

comet said...

The trouble is, it's not even genuine cynicism. It's faux-cynicism put on as a shortcut to look intelligent.

Ian said...

I can see some truth in that Comet for sure. And in such cases I see it as being the default position for many. Like they see the opportunity for a put down before considering any positives. The end result is to undermine change and we might need a few things to change here and there.

Thanks for commenting :)

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