To List is to Lean
The Top 5 Reasons Given by the Top 10 Writers in the 4 Best American Newspapers in the Top 2 Nations worldwide.
What’s with all the enumerated lists in today’s social media topics? Does it simplify things for us readers to check off? Maybe it reassures the hurried that the article is not endless. Well, here is a list of 5 true guidelines that would be approved by Gwyneth Paltrow, Jimmy Swaggart and Rudy Giuliani if asked. Gotta be true, right?
1. The world is complicated. Bourbon is not. If someone is going to distill global complexity down from a bushel of opinion to a shot of delicious truth, most will take the snort rather than sort through the bushel to toss out rotten ears and wormy cobs. We are lazy or maybe just information drunk. Sometimes a single source moonshine will blind or kill you. How about throwing a slightly wider net over a few trusted news sources? Like a fine blended whiskey, we can trust a consistency and still get the same satisfying results. Hic! We are people of stories, narratives, and the making of sense in a very confusing world. We need information but can we at least leave the plowing, planting, harrowing, harvesting, shelling, mash, distilling, and bottling to the news machine? We ought to pay decently for a quality stiff pour we can trust. Then get loaded like a cannon.
In another context, my grandmother might have said “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” Her reference was to premarital sex but it works too for buying drinking whiskey instead of growing corn and getting informed by trusted sources. I know that if I had a free milk supply I certainly would NOT bother with animal husbandry for dairy products. Give me a straight up list of the top 3, 4, or 5 things I need to know and don’t lie to me.
2. We are simpletons. More politely, we have an inherent love of simplicity, thus, we line up behind the Fox, NPR, CNN, Breitbart and Drudge Report mangers like so many hungry sheep. Who takes the time to really delve into researching a topic anyway? Library research is becoming a thing of the past. We now have weak access to paper-only seminal works that were pillars of their fields. Efficiency is a holy concept as we race around frantically trying to do everything all sudden like. Witness the mayflies that emerge, live one or two days to breed then perish, hence their Latin name Ephemeroptera = ephermeral with wings. Passing their genes along as expeditiously as possible is their sole imperative, hence a frantic, risky set of behaviors as the clock ticks down. So riddle me this: if we have a cell phone in our hand, a GPS in our car, a digital clock by our bed, a programmed Teevo, digital house controls, electronic garage opener, Roomba, and Uber-eats, shouldn’t we be so efficient that we have a ton of happy, free time? Riddle two — why do we have to work like insects? Is it to pay for the Smartphone plan, the Cable fee, the electricity, or the car behind the electronic door opener?
3. The path of least resistance rocks. Are we zombies on the path of conventional wisdom? Why worship the path of least resistance, marketed fashion, peer acceptance, social approbation, and conformity? On any social, political, ecological, or recreational issue, we narrow our information feed. When issues occur over years at a global scale, we reduce it down to a 36 x 44 inch TV screen, and a 20-second clip assembled by a group of three white middle class male copy writers who live three time zones away from the country’s capital. There is our understanding.
First hearing is shocking and unbelievable.
Second hearing is an outrage.
If it repeats three times, it becomes our truth.
If two friends reinforce it, it becomes our dogma.
If our peer group creates a narrative, it becomes our cause, our religion our campaign.
Unfortunately, nowhere along the line was it ever rigorously challenged, proof-tested, or weighed against counterpoints. Far the easier way.
4. Broomstick in the Spokes. God love a good polemicizing from a staunch contrarian! And those defectives that disagree with us? We tend to tie those people up with micro-USB cords, force-feed them an organic vegan Poke bowl and run a repeating loop of NPR or CNN. Of course, if they got a chance, they would Velcro us into a lazy boy recliner, order us a Carl Junior’s Burger Combo, and put the Fox News Network on for a day or two with just a little stock car racing on the side. How could those two solitudes inhabit the same bowling team, band, church group, work place or family? Let’s ask my cat how she likes the neighbor’s big German shepherd. I actually wouldn’t mind the stock car racing.
5. A list is really the B list or J list or R list. Lists just beg us to check them off and they offer a sense of completion when we put a line through the last item. There, stick a fork in it, done like dinner. Time to hustle back up to number 1 on this list and start some serious day-drankin’!