Cynicism 101

I can see it now: people congratulating each other, patting themselves on the back for weathering the storm that was Covid-19. Commiserating, dramatizing, making way more of the struggles and hardships than warranted. Noting how so many “rose above,” gave 110 percent, shined a little light in the midst of all the darkness.

It’s already happening on the nightly news and elsewhere- people featured for doing inane things that are held up as important and life-changing. It’s understandable, but no less saccharin or tough to watch. Even some of the pleas from healthcare workers who take quick selfie videos and cry into the camera. I’m tired of those, too, because they often sound more like whining than the visible face of anguish and frustration trying to convey the gravity. It’s the same theme every time. Starts to feel like people just jumping on a bandwagon.

I’m not getting at the essence of what bothers me about this. There’s something about it that’s missing the mark. It feels contrived, and not necessarily newsworthy or impactful anymore. Maybe it’s that people need to be noticed doing something- anything- good. We do good things so we feel better. It’s not about a calling, or an obligation or the act of helping, in and of itself. It’s more that we get to feel better about ourselves, and we get our 15 minutes.

High self-esteem is a good thing, but at some point we cross a line from that into something that looks more like bravado and hubris, and neediness. Lately, it feels like air time being filled, and not much more. Maybe it’s my own lability of affect, a certain desensitization setting in.

And since I’m digging myself a hole, please tell me why people are so quick to incorporate the phrase “war zone” into their description of things that aren’t war zones at all. Have they actually been in a war zone themselves? What are they comparing it to? Maybe it boils down to insufficient processing and hardly ever having the right words at our disposal. Settling for hyperbole. More a matter of a limited vocabulary than anything else.

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