Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ask your doctor about casual indifference.

"Killing time."

I've always hated that phrase. But not because it isn't accurate. Rather, I've hated it for the exact opposite reason -- because it is tragically accurate. Because the things we do to kill time do exactly that -- they actively destroy portions of our life that we will never get back. The two hours you spent watching that terrible movie, they're gone forever. The hour you spent on that crappy television show, it's behind you. The four hours you spent in front of that video game, lost forever.

And yet we use those words so innocently, forgetting what they really mean.

"Hey man, what're you doing?"

"Oh, you know, killing time."

And without a thought to aftermath of the murder. Without a thought to the real victim -- you. You, who are now one hour, one day, one week, one month, one year older. And having done what?

Conspiracy theorists would argue that *this is the point*. That you aren't supposed to ask questions, that you aren't supposed to wonder why, that you aren't supposed to ask philosophical questions, that you aren't intended to ponder the validity of God. That you are intended to simply sit back and accept the "truth" as fed to you by network television, by newspaper moguls, by a Hollywood intent on anything but education.

And you know, I'm almost inclined to think those conspiracy theorists are on to something.

I've felt overwhelemed lately by the amount of pharmaceutical advertising I've seen during the rare bits of television I watch (and only on a couple of channels, to boot). Overwhelemed because the point appears to be that, as a culture, we are not looking for the best remedy or the healthiest alternative or, for lack of a better word, the truth. We are a culture looking for band-aids. We're a culture looking for something that will take the pain away. And there are corporations more than willing to help us accomplish that less-than-noble goal.

"Ask your doctor about 'Drug X'."

You know what? I don't want to ask my doctor about 'Drug X' because I'm very aware that you don't actually care about my health and welfare, and are actually interested only in placating me and my medical concerns, while you line your pocket-book with money made from selling me a product I don't actually need, and is likely terribly bad for me, all because you need to meet the demands of your shareholders.

Thanks, but no thanks.

What you're really hoping for is a culture, a society, that stops asking questions, that no longer searches for truth and meaning, and instead simply consumes whatever it is that is placed in front of them by the media. What you want is a culture of sheep, desperate for a shepherd, who will cling to whatever half-truth is offered to them, not because there's anything to it, but because it makes them feel better.

Already we're overmedicated and overentertained. Why draw the line anywhere at all. Ask your doctor about casual indifference. Ask your doctor how to stop caring about your fellow man. Ask your doctor how to isolate yourself from all the things that you don't want to think about. Ask your doctor how to become numb.

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