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So many topics, so little substance

In history, Local News, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, World News on December 11, 2013 at 8:30 pm

DIH LOGOAs the year draws to a close, I’ve been planning the final few topics for Deer In Headlines in 2013. So far, I’ve got ten political topics, six personal, nine general and two holiday-related; none of which jump out at me as interesting to you, my readers. It could be I’ve decided that the absence of a subject is a topic in and of itself. Let me explain.

How much time each day do you spend thinking or worrying (not always the same activity) about things you can’t control? Are you readily preoccupied with global issues that have little or nothing to do with your daily life? What is it that really motivates you to get out of bed each day? I think we are just spending far too much time worried about nonsense.

I think maybe we are overly concerned with problems and situations that 1) have nothing to do with us directly, or 2) about which we can do absolutely nothing. Focusing on these things only wastes time and energy and takes our attention from far more pressing matters.

For example, a great leader was lost last week when Nelson Mandela passed away. Strangely, to me at least, it wasn’t really that much of a shock; the guy was 95, after all. What was shocking, however, was how little time the media and bloggers (no, they’re not interchangeable) spent discussing the Obama selfie photo and the fake sign language translator instead of focusing of the former South African president and his achievements.

It’s truly maddening that our attention was overtaken not on the legacy of a true hero but on how to politicize whether the president should have been smiling during the memorial. Think about it, that’s kind of a big deal. He was taking a cell phone picture with the prime ministers of Great Britain and Denmark. He had good reason to smile, even if Mrs. Obama seemed indifferent. But I think even that was out of context. We have no clue what she was thinking or what happened just before and after the picture.

President Obama speaks at Nelson Mandela memorial with reported "fake" sign language interpreter. Photo Courtesy AFP, Pedro Ugarte.

President Obama speaks at Nelson Mandela memorial with reported “fake” sign language interpreter. Photo Courtesy AFP, Pedro Ugarte.

Given the state of the world today, instead of criticizing them, we should be grateful that there are two world leaders willing to be in the same picture with the American president in the first place. I believe Mr. Mandela would have been gratified that people were getting along and smiling as they celebrated his life, including Obama’s handshake with Cuban leader Raul Castro. At least we’re not shooting at each other.

Every day we’re confronted with bad news. I work in the media but try to ignore much of the negative. I have enough of my own problems and I needn’t concern myself with the ridiculousness of the latest Washington scandal or whether the president should have shaken hands with a dictator. Who cares? No one but the pundits, that’s who.

Pundits are supposed “experts” in a particular field called upon for comment by the news media. Sadly, most of these so-called experts are nothing of the kind. They’re often just celebrities who tend to be publicity hounds and find a way to know something about everything at precisely the right moment. Once again, there we go worrying about things that have nothing to do with us. Why do we care what these people think about anything?

Most pundits are so far removed from average people there is no way they could relate to the trials and tribulations of holding a job, paying a mortgage or trying to determine the source of your next meal. They just don’t get it – and they don’t care.

Taking this back around to the idea of the non-topic, as we slide headlong down that snowy slope into the Christmas holidays, remember to stay focused on what matters to you and yours. Ignore the sensationalized news and the nonsense spewed out of Hollywood. Your life and the lives of your family and friends are what make the most difference in your world so center on those things and you’ll be much happier.


Gery L. Deer is an independent  contributor to WDTN-TV2’s “Living Dayton” program. More at gerydeer.com.

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