How To Stand Media Commentary and Not Go Crazy

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Are you irritated and frustrated by foolish and idiotic commentary that you read by people on the Internet? I am.

Well, I was until a seven-year-old boy, a girl from Kansas and a scarecrow woke me up.

How could the Wizard of Oz help you, like it helped me, with frustration at the befuddled nonsense other people constantly post or proclaim? Let me share my story…

I spend much of my time — or, should I say, too much of my time — reading the Internet and getting so frustrated, nay, irritated by the chatter and claptrap from people who still espouse silly ideas such as, "the government is here to help and protect us," or, "there wasn’t enough government regulation of the banking industry so we had a market crash in 2008;" or "the Democrats are better than the Republicans" or vice versa.

Where do these people get these ideas?

Don't they remember that Bush had a ninety-percent approval rating just a few years before all those same people changed their minds and went Go Obama?

How can these same people jump from being a Bush fan to an Obama fan in such a short time? Or it is like getting a new favorite TV show or ice-cream flavor of the week? Or is this all ancient history already to Boobus?

The part of all this that frustrates me the most is not the paid shills for the government or corporate America that go on the mass media to spout this sort of nonsense — I can understand them; it is the average Boobus who goes on Internet comment and chat rooms and carries on about the old Republican versus Democrat paradigm or how we have to give the government more power to do whatever it is they want to do to make our lives better.

Hasn't the government made our lives better enough for everyone already?

When will these people ever learn?

To borrow an example I think I read on this very site: Rome had many emperors. They had Caligula, Cesar, Nero, Augustus and many more. They changed emperors but, ultimately, it was still always the Roman Empire. The United States has had different presidents all through the years. Yet we’re still the American empire.

Any questions as to why Obama still has us in Iraq and Afghanistan and is expanding bombings to other countries?

Why does Boobus have such a bad memory and why is he so dumb that he keeps spouting off nonsense at work, on TV and on the Internet? Why is it that people have one mouth and two ears and yet they use their mouths easily ten times more than their ears and run their mouths constantly and make ridiculous comments?

Aren’t they embarrassed? I know I would be.

I am reminded of a famous quote from Buddha that goes something like this:

“Those who don’t know, say they do. Those who do know, say they don’t.”

These are such wise words that are especially useful to remember when discussing a subject that one is unsure of, especially in mixed company. I often find it is best to say as little as possible.

Whatever happened to the American male who was tall, dark, and handsome and the strong silent type?

One of my big challenges is I think I talk too much. But, in my defense, when it comes to a subject that I am not well read on, I make a conscious effort to keep quiet and use my ears as they were intended.

Even so, I need to be more diligent when it comes to remaining silent. I certainly see many others who would do well in considering such diligence.

Unfortunately, in these days, it seems to me that too many people — far too often — state their opinions when they haven’t a clue as to what they are talking about. It reminds me of a story I once heard when a young lady told an old woman that she was from West Virginia. To which the old lady replied, “There’s no such state as West Virginia. There’s a Virginia, but not a West Virginia. This is the first time I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t know what state they were from!”

I’m sure that wasn’t the first time that the young lady met someone who talked a lot but didn’t have a clue as to what they were talking about. I’m sure it won't be the last either.

Which brings me to an interesting thing that happened the other day that I would like to share with you. I’d like to call this a parable, but that might make me seem very pretentious, so let’s just call it a “story.”

The other night, I was reading L. Frank Baum’s the Wizard of Oz together with my seven-year-old son. We came to the part where Dorothy meets the Scarecrow and the Scarecrow tells her that he hasn’t a brain.

When we read that, my son stopped and said to me, “Daddy! If he doesn’t have a brain, then how does he talk?”

Sometimes little kids say the darndest things. I didn’t expect that a seven-year-old would ask that question. I thought he would be so involved with the story, he wouldn’t notice the illogic…. But he did.

Surprised, I didn’t know what to say so I could only make the intelligent reply of, “Don’t worry about it, kid. Keep reading the story.”

Thank God for the great parenting magazines I have read.

The next day we finished the book. My son loved it. I was happy because I wanted him to start reading more classics rather than these modern day “educational series” that the school has. He found the Wizard of Oz just as fascinating and satisfying as Harry Potter.

Since my son loved the book so much, my wife went online and bought him the 1939 classic version of the movie starring Judy Garland. I usually do not allow my son to watch things on screens but felt this was a good opportunity to teach him the difference between the book and a screen adaptation of a book.

The Wizard of Oz book is a classic adventure fairy tale; the movie is a classic musical. Some of the important points of the story are the same, but many details are different or missing altogether. If you’ve only seen the movie yet never read the book, you’d be so surprised at the difference. For example, in the book, Dorothy’s slippers are silver. In the movie, they are ruby red.

In the movie, as in the book, when Dorothy met the Scarecrow, he told her he didn’t have a brain… Once again my son looked at me smiling and proudly cried, “See!”

But, different from the book, when Dorothy replied, “How can you talk if you haven’t got a brain?” The Scarecrow replied, “I don’t know. But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking. Don’t they?”

To which Dorothy responded, “Yes. I guess you’re right.”

Ah! Wisdom! Then and there a light went off in my head. Yes. Enlightenment surrounded me. And now, friends, if you think about this simple statement it will surround you too…

It's so perfectly simple! I do not need to get angry or frustrated at Internet comments… Just remember…. Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking — and, unfortunately, they also do a lot of commenting on the Internet.

I should have known this all along. If only I had a brain!

Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He is the president of an Internet & Cross Media advertising/marketing agency and a media production company named Universal Vision. He writes about marketing, the Internet and Social Media at the Modern Marketing Japan blog. His book, Schizophrenic in Japan, went on sale in 2005.

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