Perspectives: Missed opportunity, while we’re focused on the irrelevant

Stock image by a-poselenov / iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

OPINION – Tell me what makes you angry, and chances are, I can tell you where you’ve been getting your information.

It’s not that you’ve become predictable or that I possess any kind of supernatural power to read minds as some kind of parlor trick. It’s just that a certain uniformity tends to emerge when people are feeding from the same trough of mass-produced drama.

Case in point: Did you hear the latest outrage over what the president recently tweeted?

If your answer is anything other than “What exactly does that have to do with my life?” chances are pretty good that you’ve been feeding at the trough yourself.

There’s a world of difference between being informed and simply being entertained or fixated with what someone else is feeding us. This is particularly true when we willingly give our attention to things that have zero effect on our lives until we choose to give them our attention.

Seriously, how much productive time has been wasted by otherwise decent people who simply can’t resist the urge to weigh in on the latest fabricated outrage?

It’s as if we’re becoming a nation of trained seals who will clap our flippers and bark on cue to whatever is shown to us.

A friend who works in assisted living recently related to me the frustration he feels when he’s sitting in a room with a dying man and the TV is left on to spew its nonsensical blather. In this case, he’s not even talking about the news shows but rather about ESPN and its ability to make the inane appear important.

I tend to agree with his assessment that 99 percent of what is being talked about in the mass media is stuff that doesn’t really matter at all in the long run.

I don’t mean to come off like the sanctimonious vegan who also does CrossFit and just can’t refrain from telling everyone how great it is. At the same time, I just can’t help but wonder if we’re not squandering opportunities to focus on things that will matter to us in the long run.

I recently spent time with my father-in-law who is fighting liver cancer, and I’ve been staying with a dear family who unexpectedly lost their only daughter. These experiences have served to clarify for me what truly matters.

The amount of time we each have to focus on meaningful things like life and legacy is likely much shorter than we think. Carrying on about stuff that in no way personally affects us is a tragic misallocation of our attention and our efforts.

Connor Boyack of Libertas Institute zeroed in on the missed opportunity when he noted:

There’s an inverse relationship between the average American’s focus and the ability that person has to effect any change. For example, most people are heavily distracted by D.C. and yet can do statistically nothing about the events occurring there. And yet these people are completely unaware about things happening within their sphere of influence that they could absolutely change.

His point is on target.

Our mass media tends to focus on things that serve its interests, not ours. It reports only on the things its members consider to be worthy of our attention. Notice how often politics and the interests of the political class are presented as if they are the most important things in our world.

That’s why so many people are eager to do battle on social media over the president’s tweets yet cannot tell you what’s happening where they live.

Chances are, the most important things are found within our sphere of influence. This means that we cannot afford to become distracted or brainwashed into thinking that what’s important to mass media should be just as important to us.

It’s easier to parrot the same rehashed misinformation others are discussing than to apply ourselves in a way that actively addresses authentic problems where we live. We must be determined to become more than pliant complainers.

Instead we must be willing to actively stand and build where we have influence.

To this end, Boyack offers an imminently workable solution:

Honestly, can you imagine what America would be like if everybody focused on their community rather than shaking their fists at a computer screen or venting on Facebook? Imagine if slacktivism became activism. Just think of what could be done if we rolled up our sleeves and did something about the problems around us.

Too many good people are bickering about things and people that do not deserve the stature or attention they are given. Their energy is being diverted into meaningless battles that render them ineffective agents of change.

If that’s how we choose to use our precious time, talents and passions, we don’t deserve to be a free and prosperous people.

Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events viewed through the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

14 Comments

  • Brian June 12, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Good article. Very true.

    But we can’t just ignore what is happening in DC. A good start would be to repeal the 17th amendment so that horrible senators can be recalled and replaced at will, rather than the money-driven popularity contest we have now. Then the local (in-state) politicians can be held accountable and they in-turn will keep the senators in check. The senators were supposed to look out for their states, and the congressman look out for the federal government, providing balance. But the 17th really messed that up.

    • desertgirl June 12, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      Do not understand why you believe repealing the 17th amendment will change anything in DC. Who gets to decide who the ‘horrible senators’ are. Until voters and media stop protecting politicians the beat will go on. In other words, they are already breaking laws and no one does anything. What will make a difference is term limits; and they can’t come back later.

  • theone June 12, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Bryan I think you would benefit from a different perspective, and that’s not to say you’re totally off mark here. I will recommend a podcast from “Waking up with Sam Harris”. The particular talk is titled “The Russian Connection”. Give it a listen, I think you’ll enjoy it.

    • Henry June 13, 2017 at 11:30 am

      Sam Harris is a smart guy with some interesting podcasts. It’s unfortunate that most of Sam’s “The Russian Connection” premises were refuted by James Comey’s testimony last week.

      • theone June 13, 2017 at 4:06 pm

        Actually it’s more interesting that you came to some kind of conclusion based on 30 minutes of testimony compared to Sam’s guest who has a lifetime of knowledge on the subject. Disputing something just to dispute it is laughable Henry, and I’m laughing at you.

        • Henry June 13, 2017 at 5:49 pm

          Look on the mirror to see the gullible one. The testimony by the former FBI Director, along with almost a year’s investigation by numerous trained individuals, is more credible than one so-called expert making unsubstantiated claims that lack evidence to support it. Enjoy your little fantasy world.

          • Henry June 13, 2017 at 5:55 pm

            BTW, Bryan Hyde and other LDS readers might be interested to read some of anti-theist Sam Harris’ podcasts regarding religion.

            “If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion.” – Sam Harris, September 2006.

          • theone June 14, 2017 at 9:36 am

            Ah look at Henry being all desperate. Is Sam and his (including mine) stance on the delusional belief of your religion as a real thing bring out the defense mode.
            Seriously Henry, Sam and my rejection of your fairy tale have nothing to do with the phony political nonsense going on these days.

            Her unsubstantiated claims?? Henry I believe she has been recognized for her work and the truth behind her findings. Of course her living in Russia, Ukraine, Warsaw, and being married to a Polish politician during the Soviet Union era doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in a small mind like yours.

            Give it up putz.

          • Henry June 14, 2017 at 4:12 pm

            Thanks for verifying that you’re as dumb as a box of rocks, theone. I’m “desperate” for pointing out your demonstrated bias and lack of logic?

            “Delusional belief of your religion” and “my rejection of your fairy tale”? Bad assumption; I’m not LDS or a member of any religion. Just pointing out that Sam Harris, while a smart guy, is far from mainstream in his feelings about religion.

            So your “expert”, having lived in Russian & bordering countries during the Soviet Union era and being married to a Pole, gives her unquestioned authority to comment about totally unfounded claims of U.S. collusion in the past year?

            Gee, I lived in a country that bordered the former Warsaw Pact, and was married to a German, during the Soviet Union era; I must be an “expert” to comment about U.S. collusion claims in 2016 too. LOL

            Debating with you is like taking candy from a baby.

        • theone June 14, 2017 at 5:40 pm

          Bias in what? Sam doesn’t like religion, so what, it has nothing to do with this situation. You brought it to the table on unfounded grounds.
          Who cares what religion you are or not, this has nothing to do with religion.

          I know you haven’t bothered to listen to the podcast because there is much more than what’s happening in 2016 being talked about.
          She didn’t just live there she is a Journalist and Author of books of her work. You know, on hand observation, interviews, etc.

          You can have the candy it suites you.

          • Henry June 15, 2017 at 11:29 am

            It “suites” me to see you trying to backtrack out of your remarks.

            Sam Harris’ position on religion is in stark contrast to most people’s. It is no less relevant than you bringing up “the Russian Connection” podcast to Bryan Hyde.

            The obvious gist of “the Russian Connection” podcast was to charge a connection with the Trump administration, not to provide a broad overview of Russia over the past 30 years. That thesis was riddled with holes during the Comey testimony.

            Better luck next time.

  • comments June 12, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Nothing really to disagree with here, well said.

  • desertgirl June 12, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Watch the OAN network for your nation, international and sundry news items. Real news without all the hype and drama. Many will be amazed that there are more than three or four matters happening that does affect most or all of us on some level.

  • Not_So_Much June 13, 2017 at 6:43 am

    Think nationally, act locally.

Leave a Reply