Cubic Volume

People on television have microphones but they still shout. I ditched satellite TV in 2010 and never (well, rarely) missed it. I’m back on the cable chain gang now and what I’ve noticed is people are shouting louder than ever but about increasingly smaller stakes. I walked past the break room at work where for some cynical reason my company has placed a 50-inch television screen. A man was on that screen wearing a beard that signaled poor hygiene or bad bathroom lighting was SHOUTING in defense of a football player who apparently did something more violent than what is allowed in a sport whose essential core is violence. His peers on the set sat listening with clenched jaws. It looked like an environment where one would be advised to start swinging first. I was watching live from 1,500 miles away and I felt uncomfortable. I evacuated the break room before the others on the television set gave in to the rage visibly building in their chests and starting screaming rebuttals. 

It was obvious none of the four people on that show have had sex in five months. They are anxious about the trajectory of the government and society. They are nervous about their futures and the safety of their families who live in large cities.  

I mean, come on. People don’t yell at that volume unless they are in danger, extremely angry and on the verge of physical action, or clinically diagnosed with some version of insanity. The broadcast was being done from a secure location so rule out danger. Everyone on the show is well compensated and at the highest level of their professions so rule out real, clinical, danger to the public crazy. That leaves a high level of personal frustration. Being that they are attractive, wealthy and conscientious people what remains as a source for screeching into the finest audio equipment in the world has to be a motivation that is persistent and intimate. 

Maybe  the yelling  was all hype to get and maintain an audience but I don’t think so. There’s nothing to sell. This particular show is well established and hosted by top media celebrities. And it’s not just the show I spied by chance on my way to a vending machine or sports shows in general. Even the “serious” political shows are merely sixty minute onanistic exercises featuring high decibel therapy sessions for guests who are absolutely pissed off about whatever is being done or not being done on behalf of the cause they have invested way too much emotion. 

The talk shows are proxies for the arguments our elected officials don’t have. Issues that define a nation’s path should be confronted and argued about by the people voters loan their voice. But those people don’t shout. They don’t fight. They don’t argue. They hide. They go on friendly television shows to field easy questions framed to let them speak with practiced catchphrases. The problem with being led by cowards is that no side wins and no side loses. We have a nation with a dual political personality because issues are not decided in the open after long and fair fights. It’s all underhanded, backdoor action offloaded by pusillanimous politicians onto anonymous partisan bureaucrats or ideological judges. Issues are decided before everyone has had a say or are even aware of the possible range of solutions.  

I also blame pornography for all the shouting. Porn kills (normal) sexual desire. Healthy, attractive, educated, economically well people should be having sex. Porn frustrates that. Frustrated people misplace their anger and yell – even if they have amplifiers. It’s not about being heard. It’s about not being heard by the people you need to hear your words and fulfill your needs. 

Sex has been replaced by porn. Porn is not real (for the viewer). Ironically, it’s a disembodied experience that only emphasizes the body. Sort of like how government is about politics and politics is about persuading and persuasion is about arguing (sometimes vehemently) but all of our politicians avoid politics. 

Married people have more sex than single people. But most people are married to their devices so human contact outside of taking or giving instructions is becoming harder to manage. Interesting word “device”. Devised to do what, exactly? Inform? Connect? They seem to perform almost the opposite. More like: Control. Atomize. Isolate. 

We live with sclerotic, corrupt state and federal governments and institutions perverted by the meanest of highly educated but deeply ignorant leaders. It’s obvious there should be shouting but not because the Steelers didn’t cover the spread. Think harder and more seriously about how to spend your energy in this pernicious and increasingly dangerous post-Liberal order.