I believe I’m done following David E. Henderson, despite his Emmy as a former CBS newsperson. While the man is clearly bright and obviously thinks deeply about our modern culture, the unrelenting negativity of his blog posts is just no fun. It’s like listening to George Carlin’s last performances, without the mellower humor of his early years for context.
Recently, for his birthday, Henderson posted seven observations about American society. I tried commenting on his blog, with no luck, so I’m posting those thoughts here, instead:
Yes, we live in a time of turmoil. But I believe the Tofflers correctly characterize it as another paradigm shift, like the transition from agriculture to manufacturing. To merely deride this age’s troubles is to miss the matching opportunities.
For example, Henderson’s characterization of social media as a “dull and vast online wasteland” is like calling the Pacific Ocean an unrelenting stretch of salt water. It misses the paradise of Hawaii, the pods of dolphins, the beaches of Southern California, and so much more. Similarly, amid the vapid chatter he points to in Twitter, there are rich communities of people not only sharing a new ambient awareness of one another, but also pointing to ongoing science news, or global politics, or just plain human-interest stories.
I’m 54 years old, and I learn something new every day from someone’s Twitter post. Add in Facebook, e-mail, and personal blogs, and the wasteland of needy people Henderson describes seems to me a 24/7 pool party of creatives, thinkers, and doers. Come on in, David; the water’s fine.
The tools are there for shutting out the noise and focusing on the signal. We just have to learn to use them. And that’s what distinguishes a 20th-century citizen from a 21st-century one.