Can We Ever Be A Drama-Free Society?

People have had an affinity for drama and the spreading of gossip since we've had a language to use and stories to tell, it's a part of what makes us human. People long for a connection with another person to such an extent that some of us will even fabricate events about another person just to have something to say and feel like someone who has knowledge to be shared.

I'm sure most of you remember the childhood game where your class sits in a circle and someone whispers a message to the kid beside them. When that message reaches it's original source, it's never the same as when it started. This game is intended to teach children not to believe rumors or spread them, but it's not nearly as effective as it should be and that's unfortunate.

People grow old, but for the most part, we never grow up. You might think you leave the cliques and popularity contests of high school behind once you graduate, but you just trade them in for a whole new set of mind games and foolishness.

The closest I ever got to being popular in school was being infamous. I hung out with all the perceived weirdos and outcasts and lucky for us, we had strength in numbers. A lot of us achieved a sort of “anti-popularity” because we waved our “freak flags” high and unapologetically; I began to revel in the dramatic cries of the suburban girls. “Oh my God, they're just so... UGH!” came rolling out of mouths filled with braces and the early signs of classism. We would laugh and continue on, all while gaining more and more friends while the so-called “popular kids” sat in their tiny groups and judged us all.

I later transferred to a different school and became the lone weirdo, an event which surely cemented my need for the companionship of like-minded individuals, even in adulthood. Don't get me wrong, I can make small talk with strangers and co-workers, but I hate it; I see it for the pointless posturing that it is and despise it's insincerity. I'd much rather make acquaintances with a “nobody” who has an interesting story and friendly attitude than “network” with the same people who have looked down on me my entire life.

No surprise that music and it's lifestyle has drawn me in and wrapped me in it's warm blanket of non-conformity and celebrated weirdness. I feel right at home sitting in a room of outsiders and vagabonds, talking about various artistic mediums and pondering the universe as well as existence as a whole. I feel truly blessed to meet so many interesting people from so many backgrounds; it's so much more satisfying than talking about sports in a crowded break-room with co-workers who are the textbook definition of boring.

Too bad most of the people I meet are shunned by society for whatever reason, a lot of them are really intelligent and have something great to offer the world. Humans are conditioned to reject anything outside of the so-called norm projected onto us by the media and I do my best to shatter these notions, but it's a very steep uphill battle. I'd like nothing more than to see us all realize that we're all the same, no matter our path in life, and work towards the common good of mankind.

Perhaps it's a bit of a pipe dream, but most of my “weirdo” friends feel pretty much the same way. To me it seems that the weirdos, outsiders and freaks, musician or not, seem to have a good idea of what life's really about; connecting with others and enjoying yourself while you still have time.

However, as with any group of people, outsiders are not immune to drama and petty bickering. For all the great qualities that my area's music scene has, it's still not too far removed from a high school lunchroom. Whether someone is blaming a recent break-up on a band member or someone says something offensive at a party, drama is occurring at a house show or dive bar near you.

Social media exacerbates these problems at very high speeds; heated words spoken too soon become open diary entries for anyone to see and interpret however they wish. A broad statement can easily be misconstrued as a personal attack and often is, no matter the intention of the words. How many times have you seen someone take something out of context or assume someone's vague observation was made about them? Maybe you're guilty of this too, but don't despair, you're definitely not alone. We all have that “fight or flight” instinct and it works the same way in social constructs as it does in the wilderness.

When someone feels they're being attacked, they lash out however they see fit, whether it's in person or on social media. Either way, there's going to be an audience and someone is probably going to walk away feeling shunned or belittled in some way. No one expressing sincere regret should be barred from getting a second chance, just like no one should be kicked when they're already down. We shouldn't turn our social lives into passive-aggressive, modernized versions of ancient Roman Colosseum events.

We all make mistakes, but it hasn't been until recent years that a simple mistake can be blown completely out of proportion and spread across the world within minutes. The rumor mill has always been running, but now it's big business operating on a global scale. There is a demand for information regarding the dating and shopping habits of movie stars and socialites, but the reason behind that is anyone's guess. I can only assume that it comes from a desire to live vicariously through people with more money and fame than most of us will ever experience, or to somehow validate our own meager lives by scoffing at the excess of celebrities.

Dwell on that idea for too long and you might fall into the trap of nihilistic self-loathing, feeling more and more certain that mankind is doomed to remain glued to reality television while the Earth crumbles beneath our feet. I don't feel that way at all, but there was a time when I did; I see us abandoning such attention-wasting habits eventually, but not soon enough. As a culture, we get entirely too much of our information from movies and “satirical” news sources. These things are all contributing factors to the gossip machine, a digitized beast that will trample us all underfoot if we let it.

I see a little more each day of humanity slowly reaching a level of awareness and enlightenment perhaps never quite matched by our predecessors, but then again, I'm actively looking for that glimmer of hope, not everyone is doing the same. Some people just want to watch the world burn and some people just want to dance on it's ashes. Some people just want to report anything they hear as legitimate news, with no regard to the consequences. Whether it's the local news, your neighborhood church or your school, fear and guilt are used to manipulate people and it's worked throughout recorded history.

We fear being shunned so we keep our opinions to ourselves or spread gossip to try and fit in with a group. We guilt others into seeing our point of view, lest they be shunned as being fools. The examples of manipulation tactics being used by people on large and small scales are unfortunately too many to list here. I feel that the time is long overdue for us to start examining our motivations, particularly when it comes to the information we spread around.

Next time you find yourself in the midst of gossip or receiving any kind of questionable information, consider the source and be mindful of how the spread of it could affect others. Don't rush to make a judgment of another or browbeat them into your way of thinking. Overall, we need to improve how we communicate, not just how quickly we can do it. It wouldn't be a major step, but it would be one in the direction of unifying under the cause of bettering the lives of us all.

Imagine a world where someone can say or do the wrong thing, be forgiven for the misdeed and kindly be taught a better way. There would no longer be any demand for click-bait headlines and satire that is as unfunny as it is non-satirical. We could potentially even see simple misunderstandings that turn into full-on brawls become a thing of the past.

Imagine a world where no one cares what another person is wearing or who they're having sex with; imagine all we could accomplish if so many of us weren't concerned with the trivial events of another's life. Seems to me that a lot of people would benefit greatly from focusing on their own lives and not worrying about the personal lives of others; but maybe that's none of my business.

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