Scranton column: Compression |

Scranton column: Compression

Lance Scranton
Courtesy photo

As we enter week 6 or 7 or 8 of the current situation we find ourselves in, it’s interesting to take note of some of the discussions people are having. Most of the conversations we have about big ideas are predicated on an Occam’s Razor kind of mentality: the simplest explanation is usually the correct explanation.

So, we have a habit of simplifying to the point of totalizing a certain view of life, which then produces a simple ideology that offers easy answers. It’s a zero-sum mentality of the world which seldom benefits the whole effectively.

Consider some of the ideas expressed about the present state of affairs. The simplest way to feel good about what is going on is to compress your thoughts and feelings around someone or some idea that affords a certain predetermined view of the world and our circumstances.

It’s easy to do because we want to make decisions – but we want to make them fast, but often without too much effort. It’s the unfortunate result of our television and social media viewing habits. Big important ideas are compressed into 3 or 4 minute segments for the sake of ratings and views. We get a potentially huge and complicated issue explained simply using 10 or fifteen second soundbites or memes!

Audiobooks and podcasts have exploded in sales and listening, not just because of COVID (but it’s helped). People really want to explore ideas and issues from a perspective that the traditional media outlets disdain: long, thought-out, thinking out loud, stream of consciousness conversations where every word isn’t hyper-analyzed to be used as a sound bite so the person can be backed into a corner and put on the defensive.

There is a certain implicit reciprocity in two or three individuals having a long conversation about something without being forced to encapsulate a large idea or position into fifteen seconds.

We all know that life is way more complicated than we would like it to be and so many variables act upon our ability to be safe, secure, and happy. But, somehow we manage to construct a plan each day and go out into the big dangerous world and try to live our lives and do the best we can.

It is an amazing testament to our spirit and will that, no matter the circumstances, we find ways to confront our own potential and that of those around us.

Just because people want to reopen our country doesn’t mean they could care less about human lives just as people who want to play it a little bit safer are not simply useful idiots of the dark state.

The issue is complex and revolves around complicated ideas of freedom, and liberty, and responsibility. An easy answer compressed into a short sound bite is really attractive, but we don’t live in a simple, zero-sum world anymore and the fact that people are embracing longer discussions about big ideas makes our world a potentially way better place to live.

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