Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
We're The Problem, It's Us | 4.28.24

We're The Problem, It's Us | 4.28.24

We Point Our Fingers - The Sunday Edition
This guy gets it, just living his best life and not caring at all.

We blame everything on technology, don’t we? I’m guilty of these suggestions often, and while I don’t place all the blame on the devices we are so addicted to, the social medias, the big bad internets, I certainly ask the big questions about their role in our collective demise. Yes, our demise, as I Do believe that since the invention and widespread adoption, the blanket normalization of constant connection and sharing so many details of ourselves to perfect strangers, we’ve seen a collective downturn in well-being, in overall happiness, in self-satisfaction and contentedness and a massive increase in mental health struggles, in anxiety, in a comparison culture that we just cannot seem to kick.

For years, the charts, the graphs, the talking heads on all the stations, pointed all their eager fingers directly at the technology itself. “It’s screen time!” say some, “It’s violent video games!” shout others. “Social media causes bullying!” say the masses of moms and dads at PTA meetings across the country, and we all shake our heads in agreement, we all see the same things.

Only, what if that’s just half the story? What if we’re missing something, what if we’re pointing out without ever looking back in? What if there’s more to this, what if we’re also at fault, all of us, and that we’ve changed in ways fundamental, that maybe the technology just unearthed a problem that’s been latent and just below the surface all this time—some alien kaiju that’s been here all along, and only just now rose to the surface to Godzilla the hell out of the civilizations we knew and loved?

This is the annoying part where I politely beg you to help keep this place alive by pledging your support!

I suppose that’s the question I’m posing today, the theory I’m throwing out into the universe like a single spaghetti noodle at the cabinet doors of this place to see if it might stick. Maybe it’s not the technology, or at least not just the technology. Maybe the problem is something bigger, more nefarious, and something we’re all just afraid to say out loud. Maybe, so don’t shoot me if I’m wrong, but I’m going to play devil’s advocate and go down this damn road.

Maybe it’s not just the technology, maybe it’s something simultaneously bigger and simpler, maybe it’s this: Maybe, we just all take everything so fucking seriously now.

Here’s what I realized, and again, I could be wrong and if I am wrong I’m all ears and would love a healthy discussion of this. I realized that with advances in technology, with inventions of social medias, with Instagrams and Facebooks and Snapchats and YouTube, we all suddenly had the ability to be the stars of our own cinematic universes. Hell, not even just the ability, the demand to be those stars, to turn ourselves into brands, the all-lipsyncing-all-dancing-influencing D-list celebrities of the world wide webs. This, in and of itself, isn’t the big problem though, I think it is wonderful we all get to be the stars, to have our own Marvel Cinematic Universes that put us as the Ironmans or the Black Widows or the Thors or whatever. We get to broadcast what makes us unique, special, and worth adoring, as we’re all worth adoring.

The problem is, when we became these stars, we had a choice that we didn’t see at the time, but in hindsight, clearly collectively chose wrong. As the stars, the central characters, we could have made our movies action/adventure, we could have made them comedies, we could have made them romances, but for some damn reason, on the whole and taken as an average, we seem to have made them really intense dramas. Now, instead of an occasional Will Ferrel bit of ridiculousness, or a vintage Kate Hudson romcom, we’re all living in bleak and really, really serious Manchester by the Sea type universes. I don’t even know if that’s a good example, but man that movie made me feel heavy and forlorn and just overwhelmed by how fucking HARD life can be. The problem is, in all this drama, in being the stars of that drama, we’ve also become a society that is unquestionably narcissistic. This narcissism is the kaiju I spoke of earlier, the alien monster at the center of the earth that’s been buried by miles of ocean for so long, just waiting for the right conditions to rise up, and with a giant bow wave, wade itself onto the shores of our lives. It’s always been there, it’s deeply rooted into the human psyche and just needed that perfect alchemy of technology and most importantly, Access, to give us the power to spread that as far as we can now. Here’s where the destruction comes, here’s where the Godzilla of our own self-importance tramples cities like they were Lego creations.

Now, everything is triggering to us, we’re all triggered by the slightest of slights, the most minor of social infractions. Now, we’re all throwing therapy speak around like we have a single clue what we’re talking about, we huddled masses of untrained armchair experts. Why? Where did our ability to laugh at ourselves go? Where did our sense of hilarity wander off to? Was it too buried in the rubble left behind that Mothra created after some dramatic battle of self-aggrandizing Twitter comment-fights? I don’t know, but it’s not here now, and I wonder often if we just keep throwing blame right at the technology itself, distracting away from the fact that it’s on us, too. It’s on us, maybe even more.

We take ourselves so seriously now that we’re the stars, we fall prey to what some unfortunate A-listers fall prey to, this mistaken idea that we’re more important than we are, that we’re these broken, dramatic, fragile, entitled, commodities that deserve special treatment. Instead of creating lives that are worthy of blooper-reels and stunt doubles, we’re just wallowing so often, we’re just talking, and talking, and talking about every single problem like we’re incapable of actually doing something about it, and it makes me really damn sad.

What is happening, and this is along the lines of what I Just wrote about two weeks ago, is that with all this entitled narcissism, comes the apathy and ambivalence of others to actually be decent people to those in their lives. They take and take and take, like they should be entering our lives and situations with a rider that clearly highlights all that triggers them, all the demands they require to even be in your presence, and once they are done taking, they just try to take more and don’t understand when you’re tapped out. Then, when the tides turn and something comes up where you just might need something in return, so often they are nowhere to be found, and we’re left fending for ourselves once again until they find they need you again later. They are the stars after all, this is how stars are treated, right?

I hope you know I am not downplaying the actual need for therapy or medication or professional help, as that’s the furthest thing from the truth. What I’m saying is, maybe when we somehow made that fatal error of choosing to take everything so damn seriously, we pushed ourselves down a road that so often leads to needing that help. Maybe it’s this overblown seriousness that creates so much of the anxiety we think social media is fueling (despite the fact that many studies are now showing no link between social media use and anxiety), or that is bogging us down and depressing us to the point of said medication.

I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again now, no one said it better than Vonnegut when he explained the real purpose of our lives, and I’ll tell you this, it’s not to make some A24 drama that leaves you feeling bleak and hopeless about the state of things. He said:

“We are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different.”

Touchè you beautiful genius. He got it, he understood that life is a comedy, it’s a farce, it’s a hilarious cosmic joke on a timeline that is longer and wider and taller and more wibbly wobbly than you’d ever imagine or dare to believe.

I don’t know the answers, but I am here to ask questions and throw out theories like confetti and hope you’ll dance in it, hope you’ll scoop some up, let me know how you feel about it, and then throw it back decorated in your own colors. What do you think? Am I wrong, am I so far off base? Is it technology’s fault and we’re just victims? Was the choice never ours to begin with?

I don’t know, but I do know one thing with startling clarity: I’ll continue living my life like it’s a comedy, a romcom with my Lady G, an action/adventure film that probably went straight to Netflix and doesn’t really star anyone super famous, but a bunch of pretty cool people you smile when you recognize. I’ll live that way and I’ll refuse to take myself seriously, because the end’s coming no matter how you shake it, somewhere, right now, Godzilla and Mothra are going to destroy it all anyway, the kaiju of narcissism battling it out for us all to see on TikTok and YouTube, on Twitter and if your algorithm is right, Instagram too.

It’s all a goof anyway, we may as well laugh.

We may as well laugh.

We point our fingers,

cast blame at the world we see

while we are at fault.

Haiku on Life by Tyler Knott Gregson

Song of the Week

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Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Tyler Knott Gregson and his weekly "Sunday Edition" of his Signal Fire newsletter. Diving into life, poetry, relationships, sex, human nature, the universe, and all things beautiful.