Is the World on Fire, or is it Just Me?

The summer is well under way and it seems that the world is indeed heating up, if not burning to the ground. While I worry about preparing for holiday and various other catch-up-with-friends events, it seems that lots of the world is on fire. Literally. On. Fire.
And not the fun, let’s burn all mummy’s an da’s furniture in the backyard while they’re away like my siblings and I used to…
This is something that we did not just see a decade ago when we thought the 24/7 “news” cycle was making us insane. I remember in the distant analog past when CNN launched and I as a young child thought, believed, that watching the “news” was a good education, that I was learning something. It took me years before I learned what a waste of my precious time this endeavor was and perhaps I had been stupided by this exposure to these old cycles that seem today quaint in their in-depth – by today’s standards “reporting.” A decade ago we were well into the Iraq War II or IWII(tm). It had been over a year or so since I had last protested or was in the slightest bit involved other than to turn off the news when a story came on about IWII’s latest debacle. I had held up my stupid home-made sign. I did some walking with people dressed up in strange costumes and also carrying their home-spun signs… some were really clever. Mine wasn’t clever at all… I cannot remember what it was and it certainly didn’t stop the war.
I entered a time period in the next few years where I tried to focus on my life, which was stressful enough, without being constantly bombarded by media on events alarming that I was, and had been proven to be, utterly powerless to impact. Occasionally I’d see someone with a missing leg. A young guy usually. I never inquired. It was no longer my business. I had folded up my stupid sign and put it into a box. Strangely the box was from an old Parker Brothers or Milton Bradley game about America under attack and or something called Fortress America. I bought the box from some kid off on craigslist for 10 bucks… In retrospect, I am not sure why, but this is the resting place of all things anti-war and where today they muster and molder.
It was hard then to avoid media, but not impossible. Stories about missing WMDs and Gitmos and Abugrabs flitted into my field of vision from time to time or just on those days where I left the NPR on to fill out the dead air as I worked on some pathetic renovation project. I know that these events I learned of did not help my already stressed out self – perhaps they led to more bellicose or morose behavior than usual, I will let the forensic psychologists determine the connections but I would frequently unplug in order to regain my own sense of self.
We have lived now in more than a decade of war. And it seems, as I pack my car for a long summer road trip, that this war – that is war as a constant state not one particular campaign – is escalating, ever closer, and that there are large patches of the globe that I had visited in my life that are no longer safe, are downright hostile. I wonder, again, whether I need break out the food buckets and fill them with beans again… Or invest in copper tubes as an exchange unit. Or stockpile petrol and plastic toys. Perhaps I need to not go on this holiday trip after all but need to dig a bunker against the various wars as well as what appears to be a lot of shootings, stabbings, texting-while-drivings in this land. Perhaps I need to cancel my holiday altogether.

However, perhaps my perception is being bent by the New Media as it once had by the Old Media. Maybe all these massacres and rape and explosions were happening on the regular over the last several years but the news was slow to report it and I could not just click through horror as I can now. These new ways of getting stress-inducing stories is threatening to undermine the hegemony of that Old Media, the 24/7 ‘News” media cycle of CNN and Old Skool networks which only made you feel like shit maybe once a day when you plopped on the couch – 40 in one hand, bag of crisps in the other. Today, the Twittersphere sends fresh hashtaged pictures of people being blown into hash every second. We have bombs killing children in G- and riots by the unemployed in B- and cartel massacres in M- and would can’t forget the new state of army of L- in former I- where we just spent ten or so years… a decade of treasure and lives… swooping across the desert setting up a 7th Century monastic society. We cannot confirm any of these pictures, the Tweets, the Posts, the Links the YouTube assassination videos but they come though in ever growing torrents and who can keep track of what is real, what is Photoshop(tm), what is propaganda of one side or the other or some meme started by a Troll wearing an eternal You Mad Bro tee-shirt.
Sorry, bro, that picture of the new war is actually a picture from the last war, bro, because that kid being blown to bits is wearing a popped collar and those haven’t been in style since the last war, bro. You mad bro?
It seems to be so old fashioned that we once had to flip on the Boob Tube and watch the nightly news or… have it on all day as the “reporters” parsed some detail into mental masturbation in order to fill aire time. No longer do we have to do anything other than sit still, and enjoy the Brave New World washing over us from all angles. Perhaps the Kidsthesedays know how to tune this shit out, but for me, it is hard to not hear about these events appearing in all corners of the world, the regular mass shootings at home, the environmental disasters, the historical work burned or irreplaceable mansion torn down to make room for a KenTacoHut or the bake sale that failed and was to fund a school district’s art program or sundry other worries… and wonder…

…is the world on fire, or is it just me?

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