Way back when Bill Cosby was funny, he did a routine called Chicken Heart, which revolved around a radio horror show that terrorized him as a child.
In his retelling, he became increasingly panicked one night as the radio announcer declared that a monstrous, living chicken heart was coming to his apartment to devour him. He responded by spreading Jello on the floor (long before he was paid to do so) and setting the sofa on fire. When his father came home, he restored order by insisting that his son TURN OFF THE RADIO.
I’m reminded of that routine almost daily as I check in at Facebook. So many of my friends are posting and reposting the same memes, panicked by the steady onslaught of calamities that have turned our nation into a hellish inferno. And all I can think is: TURN IT OFF.
I get it, I really do. After I’ve spent a night streaming a bunch of cop shows, I walk out of the house the next morning on alert for car chases, exploding buses and mob hits. I’m glancing skyward in case there are bodies falling from office windows and every guy coming toward me looks like a perp. I need a ton of anxiety meds to step out of the apartment in the morning, but after a few hours without incident, I return to DEFCON 5 and enjoy the day.
Online, though, I can get just a trifle nervous as I read posts from dozens of “friends” who have found the secret websites with the TRUE FACTS and SECRET CONSPIRACIES that the EVIL CABALS are hiding from us.
For the purveyors of panic, the job is relatively simple. In a nation of almost 330 million people, we can all find at least one, maybe two or three or ten examples of pretty much anything. And if we cannot find a real-world example that’s scary enough, there are also a ton of old photos to add for dramatic effect.
All of these posts are true, of course, in much the same way that Frozen is a documentary.
I’m fond of replying to my friends about the badly doctored photos, the anachronisms, the outlandishly fraudulent “statistics,” etc. But it is increasingly clear that my friends do not care if these memes are true or not, if they are inflammatory or not, or if they blow right past the boundaries of human decency.
And I cannot stop wondering why. Why would we want to view so much of the world through the darkest of lenses? Why would we limit our reading list to sources that serve only to magnify our fears? Why do we choose to be terrorized by our horseman of choice? Were we always this way? If not, exactly how did it become normal?
In the real world, I can drink the water and talk to strangers and let the pizza delivery guy come up to the apartment door. In the digital universe, though, I can’t walk down the street without being attacked by (insert bogeyman here) and there’s a giant chicken heart on its way to swallow me whole.
There is a clear solution, though. Before it’s time to smear Jello on the floor and set fire to the couch, just TURN IT OFF.
Of course, you should never turn off Dad Writes, since we are the only people keeping the world from collapsing into insanity. Help us fight the good fight by clicking here to subscribe.
Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.