“We Can’t Stop” Talking about Miley (But We Need to Start Talking About Syria)

On Tuesday, I was feeling very heart-heavy for the world.  I had been catching up on news and was sickened by the images of the tragedy in Syria.  At the same time, I was sick of all the Miley Cyrus judgement and joking.  In the same twitter feed and news sites, I was seeing the disparity of Miley vs. Syria.

In a moment of self-righteousness, I composed the following tweet:

“Based on my twitter feed, we all care more about Miley Cyrus’ dance moves than we do the fate of our brothers and sisters in Syria”

Thankfully, I had a moral pause.  I don’t always have those.  I’ve had plenty of tweet-regret in my lifetime.  But on Tuesday, I deleted that draft and spent some time looking inward (which is a feat for an extrovert who specializes in judgementalism).

Here’s where the post gets really honest and really embarrassing: If anyone published analytics from my phone and computer, they would have found far more hits to Miley Cyrus opinion blogs and tweets than world news searches.  I could tell you more about Miley’s VMA outfits than I could the death tolls in Syria.  I’ve spent more thought-time on pop culture than world events this week (and probably most weeks).

And I’m not proud about that.

After a few days of reflection, here are some initial thoughts about why this is for me:

1.  I get most of my news from my news feed.  In a 15 minute block of time I can read tweets from friends, a favorite faith blog, and a news story from a CNN tweet. Truthfully,  I probably place just as much weight on my social news feed as a I world news.  My news sources are out of proportion.  On any given day, I take in more social news than I do world news.  This is regrettable for 2 reasons: 1) I am ignorant about things I should know about and 2) It makes my world feel more important than the greater world.  My worldview is out of whack.

2.  Gossip sucks me in.  This week, I have read post after post, tweet after tweet, blog after blog about Miley.  I like to be in the know if the people I respect, like, or want to like me are talking about something.  It’s in our human nature to want to be included in things (*Cue middle school flashbacks).  Sadly, I think I place more weight on others’ opinions than finding out facts for myself.

3.  Social Media isn’t the best space for promoting peace-making, deep discussions about pros and cons of war, and expressing deep sadness about the brokenness of the world.  Social media is designed for quick quips, sarcastic digs, puns (you knew I was going to include that one), re-postable quotes, and life’s highlight reel. It makes sense that Miley’s VMA perfrmance would trend instantly on twitter and facebok because it’s easy to reduce our thoughts on her performance into 140 characters.  It’s darn near impossible to reduce thoughts on chemical warfare, death of innocent people, and the threat of war into a post on social media. This is not a commentary on social media, it’s a commentary on the fact that I need to find another outlet for regularly investigating world news and discussing the ethics behind conflict.

4.  It’s easier for me to judge than think critically.  I’m good at forming quick opinions about things I think are pretty black and white.  I have clear-cut opinions about modesty, married-folks interactions with people other than their spouses, raising children to have confidence and prudence… you get the picture.  It’s more difficult for me to form opinions around issues that are gray.  Issues with depth and layers and huge implications aren’t so black and white.

I don’t love gray areas and philosophy wears me out.  Seeming never-ending issues like world conflict are crazy-making for me since there’s no easy solution.  So I’d rather waste my time judging a celebrity than engaging in difficult discussions.

I know there’s more to this, and I hope that I will continue to dig deep and think about this.  Does this resonate with you?  Do you have any additions to this list?

I know I need to make some changes regarding the information that I take in and the information that I put out.  The world needs more peacemakers and less gossip columnists.


4 thoughts on ““We Can’t Stop” Talking about Miley (But We Need to Start Talking About Syria)

  1. This is really good stuff. It makes me want to start a challenge to read the news 15 minutes a day. I used to know a lot more about what was going on in the world when I drove to work and listened to NPR on the way. Now I get most of my (world) news from Facebook. Which is obviously not much. It’s so embarrassing to admit that! I shy away from reading the news because I’m overwhelmed with where to start. I feel lost with not knowing what’s going on and afraid I won’t even understand the news without having any background on the last 2 years. So there is my admission. I think I really will start a challenge for myself!

  2. I, too, usually find out about current events from my news feed. Yikes. I like your point about gaining a ‘world view.’ It’s kinda like when I find myself unhappy that I can’t buy the things I want here in Saudi, I need the reminder that there are bigger issues. And when I spend time thinking about those issues and what I can do about them, I’m a lot less concerned about buying shampoo. Which is good. 🙂

    1. It’s interesting to hear that from someone who I feel like has a pretty incredible world view (living in another country). I feel like you’re probably more in the know than you realize.

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