America's problem? We’ve forgotten how to mind our own business - Guebieun Gallery

America's problem? We’ve forgotten how to mind our own business


FAST DOWNLOAD Jon Gabriel, Special to the Republic Published 6:00 a.m. MT July 25, 2020 Everyone’s angry these days. We’re mad at people wearing masks and people not wearing masks. Mad at the crowds in Portland and mad at the cops trying to keep the peace. Mad at Trump and Biden and Kanye West.

Which brings me to “Ghostbusters II.”

In this cinematic classic, our titular heroes identify the source of a recent paranormal outbreak. The general anger and discontent that defined 1980s New York City created a subterranean river of psychoreactive pink slime.

“All the bad feelings, all the hate, the anger and vibes of this city is turning into the sludge,” Winston (Ernie Hudson) tells the mayor.

“What am I supposed to do,” the mayor responds, “go on television and tell ten million people they have to be nice to each other? Being miserable and treating other people like dirt is every New Yorker’s God-given right!”

What used to be a New York thing has gone nationwide.

After weeks of research, long nights of analysis, and more than a few Bill Murray films, I believe I’ve discovered the problem: We’ve forgotten how to mind our own business.

The nosy neighbor is a long-running trope in popular entertainment, from Gladys Kravitz in “Bewitched” to Marie Barone in “Everyone Loves Raymond.” These meddling, gossipy scolds were examples of what not to be.

These days, they would probably play the heroes. Most of America is now glued to their phones to see who did what and how they should punish them.

A recent convo with someone far more plugged in than myself went like this:

“You hear ‘Entanglements?’ Can’t believe August did Jada like that.”

“August? It’s July.”

“August Alsina. You know. His song about Jada and Will. Uncool.”

“Will Smith?”

“Yeah! Jada had that affair with August and he did a song about it.”

“Can we stop talking?”

'I mind my own business, just like my mom taught me'
To my credit, I knew who Will Smith was, that he was married to Jada, and that he shouldn’t have made “Wild Wild West.” The rest of it was beyond me.

I’ve never followed Hollywood gossip because nothing celebrities do has any effect on my life. I’ve got a fading number of brain cells and I can’t afford to fill it up with nonsense.

In other words, I mind my own business, just like my mom taught me.

At least celebrities make news because they’re famous. Today, everyone has a smartphone and records everyone else in their worst moments. There’s the guy yelling at a cashier, a driver following a commuter home because she flipped him off, and the woman losing it because the restaurant ran out of guac.

The most telling viral videos show both combatants wielding their phones, assured that their opponent will come out looking worse.

'When Kim Kardashian becomes a moral exemplar, it’s time to reflect'

As social media busybodies lambaste the latest hate object, they never seem interested in the other side of the story. Maybe the moral monster captured on shaky video just found out her dad was diagnosed with cancer. Or has been working double shifts the past several months at a health clinic. Or is struggling with a mental illness.

Kanye West has engaged in erratic behavior over the past week, earning mockery and contempt from media sophisticates. This, in spite of his well-publicized struggles with bipolar disorder.

His wife responded to his accusers Wednesday. “We as a society talk about giving grace to the issue of mental health as a whole, however we should also give it to the individuals who are living with it in times when they need it most.”

When Kim Kardashian becomes a moral exemplar, it’s time to reflect. Perhaps once we each solve our myriad personal flaws and misbehaviors, we’ll be in a position to judge complete strangers.

Until then, let’s relearn how to just mind our own business.

Jon Gabriel, a Mesa resident, is editor-in-chief of Ricochet.com and a contributor to The Republic and azcentral.com. Follow him on Twitter at @exjon.


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