Sometimes things are so awful that all you can do to get through it is talk about Miley Cyrus obsessively. A statement I saw throughout social media and in the comments sections of blogs and such was the assertion of how sad it was that the Miley Cyrus debacle had diverted us from having a conversation about Syria, which we can all agree is a much more important topic.
The thing is, though, what in the world am I supposed to talk about online in regard to Syria? Is my hand-wringing and opposition justification enough to sate my desire to hear my own self-righteous voice online? The people who don’t want to bomb Syria know it’s the wrong thing to do and the people who want to bomb Syria just don’t care. They certainly don’t care to hear anything I have to say on the matter.
And so Miley Cyrus becomes a way of humming real loud so we don’t have to listen to the concerns of actual, horrible reality. Maybe I would oppose that more if the country was in a great place and took a sudden horrible turn that we could all stop from getting any worse if we just take action, but that’s not the case. The country is in a horrible place. It was in a horrible place under Bush. It was careening to a horrible place under Clinton. People are tired of the horribleness, the bile that is inherent in any political conversation, the incompatibility of warring ideologies trying to control each other.
For god’s sake, just let people talk about Miley Cyrus if they want to.
In regard to my own feelings about Miley Cyrus, here’s the important information -- I don’t really have much of a clue as to what she did that was so shocking, and I’m certainly not going to go find out. You don’t need me to.
The short version is that some young famous person apparently did something outrageous in order to get publicity, and the public followed suit by reacting in such a way that publicity inevitably followed. If you already know what the outrageous thing was, you don’t need me to tell you, and if you don’t know, you probably don’t care and more power to you.
So how do I even know about Miley Cyrus? I have good friends with whom I will never converse about Cyrus’ transgressions. We have other things to talk about. However, they will post about stuff like that on Facebook, and suddenly I am privy to all sorts of worthless crap that I have taken great care to avoid in my daily life. I was set to go through the whole day without being exposed to the shocking news that a young celebrity had harnessed a display meant to cause outrage among the audience.
But then, I started seeing the backlash and the sanctimonious suggestions that we talk about Syria instead, and I found that annoying, too.
I imagine that outrage burnout is probably becoming a clinical condition. It’s no longer enough to suggest a different course -- you must be outraged by it. If there is one single emotion that dominates the Internet other than "cute animal delight," it is outrage. About everything. Ever. And the only way for people to divert themselves from the fatigue cause by one outrage -- the situation in Syria -- is to latch onto another one -- the Miley Cyrus shenanigans. This is followed by an attempt from the people siding with the "important outrage" to take pot shots at people who embrace the "trivial outrage."
Well, I’m outraged at all of you.
For me, it’s really a rock and a hard place. I don’t want to talk about Syria. I don’t want to talk about Miley Cyrus. I want to talk about not wanting to talk about those. And I’m pretty damn sure my attitude is outraging someone reading this.
John Seven is the Transcript’s arts and entertainment editor. He blogs at blogs.thetranscript.com/arts.