Honestly, Why Do You Care About What Care About?

Posted in Uncategorized by aintnothingright on February 13, 2010

Caring is an interesting concept: it involves issues that relate to you in a way that doesn’t necessarily affect you, but you have a concerned regard for.  For example, I care about my ending the last sentence with a preposition.  Should I care about it?  Well, it is sometimes somewhat acceptable to use that type of sentence.  Anyway, does it really matter even if it wasn’t acceptable, to you, the reader, or to me?  This is the analysis of whether to care and if so, how much that each of us undergo, albeit to degrees varying on the individual.

What do you care about? Foremost yourself, certainly, but most likely you care about your family, your friends, your co-workers, and your pets, likely.  Even inanimate objects you certainly care about, but this is a more indirect form of caring: you care about these objects because you care about yourself and other people, and if these objects were damaged, changed or removed, it would affect you or others, possibly in negative ways.  Your ability to care has become more abstract and indirect in this sense.  Let’s continue with this line of thinking.

You care about strangers, right? Well, at least to the extent your “nature” and “nurture” mechanisms tell you to.  You are a human, born with some sense of empathy and sympathy, and these characteristics have most likely been further engendered in by your parents and your peers.  Why do you care about strangers, though? Their welfare doesn’t affect you nearly as much as the welfare of those that you know.  It is because you think of yourself as civilized, rational, and perhaps most tellingly, good human being.  You care about ideas, in that you care about how you are perceived by yourself and by others.  You care about the “Social Contract” – that is the general will of the whole, the concept of being civilized  in order to maintain order.  Abstract, we are beginning to get, no?

Okay, so we care about people we know, objects and strangers.   So what! This has nothing to do with communications!  Before you close the browser in rage, let me discuss one final line of caring: caring engendered from what you are exposed to through the mass media.

Now I might say we “care” about Britney Spears, but you might argue that for many people it is not caring, but rather vicarious living or schadenfreude (pleasure in other’s suffering), not necessarily caring.  However, for a minority I would argue that people do care about celebrities.  These celebrities’ lives cannot directly affect those who care about them via mass media in any direct or meaningful way.  Yet they care, why?  I argue it is due to exposure from the mass media to individuals who have a proclivity for caring when exposed to particular stimuli, no matter to what degree they are caring could affect them.  Their ability to analyze why they care has been limited.  They simply just care.  You are “supposed “ to care about these things, not ask what the motivations for the media telling them these things are, nor if what they are being told is true, nor why this person deserves their care more or less than anyone else.

A luger died today, on the first day of the Olympics in Vancouver.  People are sad.   “So young”; “he didn’t have time to achieve his dreams”; “what a tragedy to occur”.

Just a few minutes ago a 23 year old died in a car accident.  She was young, she hadn’t had time to achieve what she wanted to achieve.  I want you to care about her as much as you did this luger.  Can you? Do you think most people can if I asked them, truly?

I would like you to ask yourself if you feel okay the mass media to dictating who and what you care about.  Is a single person’s death in your city worth caring about simply because they lived geographically closer to you than a person in another country?  Is this person who died somehow more valid of your caring?  Should you let the mass media decide?

Letting the mass media decide is similar in principle to not caring at all.  You are simply responding to the stimuli around you and aren’t taking the time to judge what is worth caring about and to what degree.  By doing this, you are violating what it means to care, you are being tricked by those who would just work to get your reactions.

Before you get up in arms, please note I am not saying don’t care about what can’t affect you.  If you see an old woman drop her parcels, help her!  In this instance you can help, you might be the only one, and your help is meaningful.  Is it meaningful, helpful or efficient to care about a celebrity in the media? Sure you might like their movies, and that fact might make you somewhat sad, but to actively care about their loss, and to mourn them as a person, is excessive.

Please also note here that I am not arguing against caring at all about people you are exposed to in the media, rather, I am saying care about them as much as you care about people you aren’t exposed to. Keep it equal, so that you are not dictated, even though this may mean not actively caring about these people, simply because you can’t care about everyone who undergoes negative actions.   You may argue that you are just trying to be “caring about what you can”, but in reality you are “caring about what you are exposed to via mass media”, two very different things.  The mass media has an agenda, and it wants you to care.

Finally, I will say that most people who care about two police officers that died, or a child hit that was by a car, also care because they want to fit in and not seem insensitive and cold.  You are none of these things by not caring about these particular issues.  You are being equal in your ability to care, and providing each human with their just deserts.

You are your own person, and to not be disingenuous about your idea of being a wholly caring, empathetic person, you should treat those with same degrees of distance from you equally.