Why We're Cynical

I'm often asked to discuss why my generation is so cynical. From what I can gather, cynicism is more common as a defining characteristic in America now than perhaps it has ever been, and people my age and younger tend to be the most cynical of all Americans. Although I'm basically an optimist in my personal life and my outlook on personal issues, my view of government, the media, and society as a whole is without a doubt cynical and sarcastic.

That's a dichotomy I've never fully grasped, but true to the post-modernism that defines so many of my generation, I don't worry about it much either.

Thanks to a link on a tech blog, I just watched Bill Clinton's appearance on Fox News, and it's completely clear to me why we're so cynical these days. It's the only way to survive with our sanity in tact.

Journalism is dead. It's just not out there anymore. Instead we have corporate controlled media outlets designed to appease certain demographics and hence please advertisers. Fox News is, without a doubt, a conservative new outlet. It exists to appease those who identify strongly with the current Republican party. I really find it funny that they don't openly admit this, and don't get me started on one of their pundits assertion to operate a spin-free zone. Don't get me wrong, I'm not singling out Fox News. Other media outlets are just as pleased to spew the line of the opposite side. Objectivity isn't even attempted anymore.

From the get go, it was obvious that the two parties involved in the interview (Wallace and Clinton) were adversarial. Why shouldn't they be? Events never occur in a vacuum now, they're always moves in a giant media chess game where two extreme political parties try to say what's wrong with the other guys instead of what they believe works in their own. Our leaders spend much more time trying to defeat the "other side" than they do accomplishing any work for the people they serve.

How can I not be cynical? I'm an independent thinker, and I can't imagine identifying strongly with any political party. With the infinite spectrum of ideas, problems and solutions, how can a choice between A and B be adequate? How can two groups of extremists appeal to anyone in the middle? Most of my conservative friends and family consider me a bleeding heart liberal and most of my liberal friends and family see me as a Bible-Belt conservative. Why do we have to fit into two neat little pools of political thought?

How can we not be cynical when out country is so deeply divided? How can we relate when our country, the world's greatest democracy, forgets it's founded on respect for the beliefs and opinions of others?

I'm done. I'm done with Bill O'Reilly and Chris Wallace. I'm done with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I can't watch anymore as we revel in tearing each other down.

I'm tired of voting for candidates who care for nothing more than winning. That counts for Republicans and Democrats.

I think a lot of other people are tired of this game too. Maybe one day there will be enough of us to change things.