Smartest or loudest? Thoughts on the rampant rhetoric of now.

I've noticed an irritating communication trend lately. It's happening across mainstream media, the blogosphere, social media and all out in public. And I must say, I don't care for it at all. Time was when you wanted to hear an opinion; you asked it of the smartest person in the room. Now everybody has a freaking microphone and he (or she) who screams loudest gets heard. It seems that the majority of the American public is accepting volume over value. And sometimes it's hard to hear yourself think with all the noise. I also find I have to unplug from Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere a lot more often.

All of a sudden, everybody is a political theorist, a sociologist, judge, jury and executioner. Sometimes, I just want to talk about how cute my boots are and what kind of wine helped to smooth out my mood. And yet, I find myself assailed and assaulted by all these loud (often angry, often ignorant) voices. In fact I would argue that nowadays the louder the voice, the less intelligent the speaker. What's stunning to me is that more these people scream, the more people stop and look and the greater their false sense of self grows. It's a vicious circle. Folks, I don't rubberneck at car wrecks on the side of the road, I keep driving. Focused on arriving at my destination sanely and safely.

I'm choosing to take the time to look beyond the screaming and get to what makes sense for me. Here are some examples:

Music – there's a whole lot of crap out there. I mean a lot. Not sure what flavor of deep-fried idiot is sitting up in Manhattan and LA offices dictating the music that blares from radio and television. I really don't need to hear whoever the latest no-talent-pop-princess is (who the heck is Ke$ha? I mean, seriously?!). I would be tempted to give up on new music altogether if wasn't for hidden gems like this giving me life from Eric Roberson and Lalah Hathaway:

Television – surely you have heard me rant about reality television enough that I don't need to go in any further. What's worse is that the "original programming" sucks for air as well. Network television (with the exception of one or two shows) has gone to hell in a handbasket. Seriously, are we back to the 50s? In the 90s we had a slew of programming featuring African American casts and telling stories of life outside the mainstream (read Caucasian) experience. Now, I have to be happy if there is one face of color in a cast. But there are some wins on cable, specifically Southland on TNT:

News and Politics – I quite frankly don't want to hear one more word about what a crappy job people think Obama is doing or how let down they feel. That's their opinion and they are welcome to it. But what is their bitching doing to help? Yes, Martha Coakley lost the Kennedy seat in Massachusetts and guess what… the world continues to spin on its axis (though I'm positive Teddy is spinning in his grave right about now). It's a blow but not a harbinger of an eminent apocalyptic disaster in America. Get some perspective people, folks are dying in Haiti. Hell, they're dying here!

And speaking of Haiti, boo and hiss to the folks talking about all the so-called "wild looters" running wild in the streets of Port-au-Prince. According to actual feet on the street, there a few folks out there cutting up out of sheer desperation but most of the Haitian citizens are well-behaved and thankful for any aid that can come their way. And don't get me started on the deliberate smear campaign directed at Wyclef and his Yele organization. Turns out the loudest people are the meanest ones too. To counterbalance, let me share this great story of Jeanette: A Haitian woman rescued after six days because neither she nor her husband would give up:

Public – So I'm at the gas station the other day minding my own damn business when the pump starts acting all crazy. I mean it won't let me pump more than a few drops at a time without cutting out. So I go inside and ask Habib to come check out it. Hold up… I'm not being racist, his name tag actually said, "Habib." Habib comes out, cheesing and striking up a conversation about Kanye West (since I'm black I gotta talk about Ye, right? Le sigh!) and whether I think his music has gotten too electronic when JimBob pulls up in a big old Ford pickup. Okay, now I'm being a little racist, I don't know if the boy's name was JimBob – he looked like a JimBob to me. (I'll go back to diversity sensitivity training this summer). Anyway, JimBob had drama with his pump as well and turned around in a circle before loudly declaring, "She broke the pump system and now we all have to wait."

No one said anything to him and Habib fiddled with the pump while still getting his chat on. So then JimBob said, "If she would stop flirting with Akmed, maybe we could get outta here." Brother across the way said, "Dude, chill out! She wasn't doing anything." JimBob whirled on him and said, "Who the f*** are you telling to chill out?" Sensing some bullshiggitty about to pop off, two of Habib's more beefy coworkers came out and asked, "Is there a problem out here?" JimBob started going in on them, not noticing that the pumps were fixed and the rest of us were filling up and moving on. That's a whole lotta drama for a Shell station on a Wednesday night. And his loud ass held all of us temporarily hostage while we figured out whether he was about to go all disenfranchised psycho-killer. I ask you, is it really that crucial?

So go ahead angry, loud people… get your best scream going. I'll have my music on, my head down and my keys at the ready. I will unplug, change a channel or disconnect before I allow crappy music, half-done TV or fruitless commentary to take over. Carry on. Thoughts, comments, music or TV you are proud to share with the group?