A goal for the new year
TBO.comAn interesting goal for 2013 would be to mature enough to know what we like and don't like, what we want and don't want, and when to change our minds. The end-of-2012 stories and statistics will begin flooding us this week. Too many will take their own measure by comparison rather than by choice.
Published: December 28, 2012
Published: December 28, 2012
Google tracks its website traffic. Topics are said to be "trending" when they are frequently viewed. Google says the trends reveal the "spirit of the times." Maybe we should see that the trends point to humanity's major trend — the tendency to just follow the herd. We are producing too many cookie-cutter people and too few originals.
Whitney Houston's passing caused anything to do with her life, career and death to be the number one Google trend in 2012. Does the world's obsession with beauty and fame override the tragedy of destroying phenomenal talent with drugs and alcohol?
South Korean rapper Park Jae-sang's music video "Gangnam Style" hit viewers July 15 and runs a close second to anything Houston. Known as PSY, Jae-sang's energetic gyrations involve a bevy of beauties and a guy in a canary-yellow suit in a parking garage. Shouting "Gangnam Style" every few seconds while doing pelvic thrusts, PSY manages to hold a billion viewers (and climbing) spellbound for 4 minutes 13 seconds of no-talent, slightly bawdy antics — another prescription for fame and fortune.
No matter the spotlight on them, Whitney had dark secrets and surely there is more to PSY than "Gangnam Style." Emulating either would be not only foolish but impossible. They are not us; we are not them.
"Who am I?" is still a good question.
Two Mitt Romney quotes made Fred Shapiro's top positions on the "Yale Book of Quotations" for 2012. Both are more likely to live in infamy than fame: the first, his comments about the 47 percent of the population dependent on the government; the second, his ill-fated attempt to win over women with his "binders full of women" statement. It is unlikely that either show us the man. Both are easily taken out of context; both were spoken in the heat and duress of running for political office.
All this is summed up in Kelli B. Grant's number 10 in the list of "10 Things Health Food Companies Won't Say" (published in The Wall Street Journal): "Take studies with a grain of salt" — and, we add — other people's talents, non-talents, looks, bank accounts, reputations, quotes and... "Who am I?" is still a good question.
The Israeli airport security screeners, acknowledged as the world's best, have discovered that "smart people can maintain the consistency of lies better than dumb people" (Lori Borgman in McClatchy-Tribune). Are we smart people smart enough to know that the greatest contribution we can make to 2013 is to be who we are? That cannot happen through trending, especially, if we choose the wrong pattern.
Biblical advice holds true: "When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise" (2 Corinthians 10:12). A goal for 2013 might be to find a better standard.
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If we seek simple truth, we can find it together—side-by-side. Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com