Saturday, March 3, 2012

Gas prices, shallow relationships and community

It seems lately that wherever my exploits take me I keep hearing the same cacophony of indignation that is echoed in print on FaceBook status updates and news stories. People pushing shopping carts full of soda and water to their cars, cell phone users waiting in line at the McDonalds drive thru, the lottery ticket junkie trying to engage the smoker in line waiting to pay for gas at the truck stop, and that candy bar chompin' beast of a woman being interviewed while sliding her credit card through the gas pump. They are the collective voice expressing outrage over the supply and demand driven price of the commodity gasoline.

As I have walked the 27 miles to Indy this past week or my daily trips around Lebanon I hear the irony being laid on thick. I think of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes and John Nash during these times. I envision an imaginary debate among these men as the befuddled populace stares in bewilderment while these economic philosophers try to bring sense to the muttering crowd. But it's to no avail.

The dismissive crowd just can't comprehend market forces or their own hypocrisy. Even if they could the complaints would still roll off their tongues and get posted as quick as their nimble fingers can tap away. So, I contemplate what draws people into the collective disassociation with logic and valid argument to complain about fuel prices and elucidate various, although incorrect, attributions.

My conclusion is based upon my vast, broad based interactions with people in various social and sociological forums. First and foremost, there is the overwhelming denial of personal responsibility that is common to most of humanity. Few humans want to find fault in themselves and face the psychological impact of accepting Truth and the related consequences. Second is the desperate need to belong, to feel accepted, to be part of the in-crowd and share in the water-cooler musings. This is a phenomena that I have seen expand concurrent with the advancement of social networking technology. A significant portion of people have lost personal contact.

It is that socializing anomaly which leaves the human spirit wanting. Those who are comfortable without maintaining intimate relationships with others are called sociopaths. Most of society, subject to self-imposed frantic lifestyles, has lost the intimacy that permeated a bygone era. Now the need is satiated by jumping on the latest vitreous discussions to feel a part of society, to be connected.

There are those who maintain the deeper personal connections and take time to stop and smell the roses while shunning the frenetic pace of the modern world. But it's lonely for the intellectually proficient resigned to seeking out those elusive and rare individuals upon which one can build real relationships instead of sharing in the hypocritical ignoramus rumblings of the general population. But such is life.

So next time you are about to render complaints about matters under your control with false attributions to another ask yourself why. The likely answer is that you are compensating for a lack of meaningful personal relationships and fear of personal responsibility.

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