Junk Society

(Adapted from a letter I wrote someone.)

We’re a nation of mass-produced junk.

Let’s start with junk food, which no informed observer can deny is both popular and bad for you. Even health freaks consume some junk food. You can find junk food that caters to vegetarians, vegans, etc. Junk food is fast and convenient, sweet and consoling.

Having some junk food on rare occasion probably isn’t bad, and may even be good; everyone deserves cake and Coke on his birthday. But we make a habit of it, and don’t notice the damage to our bodies until it’s incredibly hard to lose the weight.

(I speak from experience here; it took me many months to lose 40 excess pounds.)

Somehow our elites haven’t realized that just as there is junk food, there can be junk movies, junk TV, junk music, junk “literature”, junk news, junk politics, junk relationships, junk religion, junk education. It all has a similar pattern: fast and convenient, sweet and consoling.

Enjoying some junk on occasion probably isn’t bad, and may even be good; for example everyone deserves the thrill of a brief infatuation. (So long as you don’t take it too seriously!) But we make a habit of it, and don’t notice the damage to our souls (or minds, if you prefer) until a president uses Twitter to try and thwart an election whose outcome hurts his ego. Then we wonder what’s wrong long enough to ban him from Twitter but avoid considering the underlying issues.

The “junk attitude” is pervasive. It’s everywhere, and it’s bad. Somehow we have to wean ourselves off the junk, and learn to love things that aren’t junk, to adopt a habit of abstaining from that which is fast and convenient, sweet and consoling, replacing it with that which is slow and long-term, sometimes bitter but always rewarding.

Were we serious about it, we wouldn’t simply ban the former president from Twitter, and not just because something like 2/3 of Twitter’s users should probably be banned from using it. Rather, we’d ask ourselves what it is about the way people use Twitter that feeds into that dynamic.

To be clear, the problem isn’t Twitter; that’s just a tool, the way a hammer is a tool. Just as it’s possible to misuse a hammer, it’s possible to misuse Twitter. The problem lies in the person using the tool, in our human nature, flawed by original sin.

How do we fix human nature? Well, one of the reasons Alcoholics Anonymous is that it refocuses the individual’s perspective from himself to a “power greater than ourselves”. If you can’t brign yourself to believe in God, they say, try ”the higher power of the group”, or something similar. But you have to believe it, which means to live what that means.

As [Jesus] passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

In addition to following someone on social media, why not follow a higher power? Refocus on something eternal, and follow that.