Oh my God did you see … is a phrase that’s carving out ever more conversational real estate. And yea, there are some crazy, disturbing things happening at the moment. So, paying attention and “getting educated” seems like a noble use of time. But however well-intentioned this enterprise may be, and even however productive it may be, its hamartia is obvious: what we are mostly doing is feeling good about ourselves by complaining about things we do not control and which have so very little actual effect on our day-to-day experiences. The flip side being that in a world that is infinitely vast and filled with nonsense, there remains much that we – specs of sand and soon to be forgotten – can still do to actually improve our lived experiences not in some far-off time, but today. And no, this is not about turning hyper-selfish per se; this is about a real appreciation that the “culture” you exist within is almost entirely not some thing out there controlled by the idiots in Oh my God did you see, but rather a tangible ethos that you are tasked with managing.
If this all feels a bit grand and philosophical, consider a somewhat old-fashioned practice of saying to a child, “xxxxxxxxxs don’t steal. That’s not what we do.” This is a potent demonstration of the fact that while you may live in a world with a seriously flawed dominant culture, you can always build your own. Will your child still be influenced by that dominant culture? Sure. Will you, the adult, still be affected? Yup, yup. That doesn’t make the undertaking hopeless, just challenging. And it’s hard to think of a challenge more worthy of your effort than this one.
Of course, this culture creation isn’t only confined to immediate families. It’s everything and everyone you touch, which is often larger than commonly understood, especially when caught in the death spiral of Oh my god did you see. Or how about keeping the antecedent and ending instead with what you witnessed via face-to-face interaction, not some pixels on a screen describing a scene in a faraway land. When I train my focus in that direction reflecting on xxxxxxxxx’ blackout, the culture – that is, the xxxxxxxxx culture – seems pretty flawless. There’s generosity, compassion, fun, and a host of other attributes we lament for not being present in the wider world. For those lamenters, I advise following the xxxxxxxxx lead in spending less time consumed by what the world is not and more time constructing what your world can be. If you do it right, your guests may just feel like they are on a unique sort of vacation.