Way back, I had the enviable job of taking an irrigation company public in the middle of a drought. While farmers across the country were losing their shirts, our team was flooded with interest from professional investors who recognized the long-term appeal of water on demand.
And then, the worst possible thing happened. It rained in New York.
Suddenly, some of the most brilliant minds on Wall Street lost interest in the company because, clearly, the drought was over. We were abandoned by a disturbingly large number of investors who seemed to believe there could not be a drought if it rained on their block.
All news is local, as they say. If it didn’t happen to me, if it didn’t happen to someone I know, it simply didn’t happen. Or, if it did happen, it was no big deal. And if it was a big deal, they probably brought it on themselves through all the bad choices that we would never make.
Whether it’s a pandemic or a flood or a Ponzi scheme, out of sight is out of mind. Or, more specifically, out of sight means nonexistent. It’s almost as if we’re all infants who haven’t mastered object permanence.
Even worse, we seem to be losing our ability to see the humanity in the suffering, the real people whose disasters we avoided through grace or dumb luck, but seldom through merit. Somewhere, in all our isolation and tribalism, we seem to think we’re different, maybe better, more deserving. We aren’t.
Here’s a post mocking someone who died after refusing a vaccination, and here’s one mocking a person who died in spite of their vaccination. Here come the Darwin Awards, mocking people who died doing something stupid, as if stupidity should be a capital offense.
Sometimes, I think all this schadenfreude is a defense mechanism. If we can blame other people for their misfortunes, we can say they deserved their fates. And, if they are poor/homeless/addicted/dead as a result of their own failings, then we are safe. We are, after all, good people, not like them.
Beyond that illusion of invincibility, it’s probably safe to connect the mockery to our isolation over the past couple of years, and to our insularity. The less I associate with people who are not like me, don’t think like me, don’t live where I live, the easier it is to think of them as bloodless memes.
That’s always been the case, of course, but our increasingly decreasing connections are making us even more self-centered than in the past. On the positive side, there’s a quick and simple fix to all of this and that is to make a new connection. Not a social media connection, but a real, human being who can introduce us to a world beyond our straitjacketed confines.
Yeah, it can feel a little bit strange at first, listening to someone else’s story about a life that isn’t ours, but it grows on you after a while. I like to think of it as a free streaming account with 3-D avatars, transporting me to parallel dimensions I’ve never visited before.
Who needs the metaverse when we have entire worlds we can explore on our own?
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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.