the original kStyle blog.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Wednesday Writing Assignment

Filling in for kStyle today.

Apathy gets a bum rap these days, as well it should. The times we live in, it's easy to see why anyone who isn't part of the solution--even if that part consists of remaining aware of, and concerned about, what goes on--is part of the problem. And not just politically, either: it's hard to see the opening-weekend grosses of "The Dukes of Hazzard" as a harbinger of something other than doom. Take a stand, people!

That said, each of us can probably name something that, hard as we try, know as we do that we should get all worked up, we just can't seem to muster any interest in. Some issue of national or global importance that demands our attention, some moral wrong that should by all rights pique our outrage, some social convention we should adhere to, but don't?

Name something that, despite all of your better instincts, you just don't give a crap about. Why don't you? Of course, no apologies or confessions of guilt are required here on Float: today is Apathy-Absolution Wednesday.


Blogger kStyle said...

There was something getting news headlines a month or so ago, and I recall that I rather wondered what all the fuss was about...but I've forgotten what it was. That's true apathy.

In lieu of true apathy, which is pale and easily erased from memory, I give you this. I used to care about the Israel-Palestine conflict, but now I can't. It's been going on practically since the birth of Man, it will continue perhaps until the end of Man, and now I know better than to believe the leaders when they shake hands and vow to stop car bombers and withdraw settlers. My hopes have been dashed one too many times, and I have no energy left to devote to this struggle. Moreover, I'm sickened by American presidents grasping to mediate this conflict in order to build their own political legacies.

When I was a kid embroiled in conflict with my brother, we did an infinite regression dance of hatred: He bit me--she took my block--he was using the block to beat up my stuffed animal--etc. My mother would famously puff up her lungs, expanding herself well beyond her 4'11" stature into the formidable vision of Justice incarnate, and calmy, firmly state: I DON'T CARE WHO STARTED IT. STOP IT.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

I'm not one of those people who thinks global warming is a myth, or the ozone layer doesn't matter, or the rainforests don't represent a crucial part of the world's ecosystem, or that we don't produce more garbage than the planet can possibly sustain. I acknowledge all of that, and scorn those who ignore science in favor of commercialism and greed.

But in the end, I've never managed to care that much.

Maybe it's that I won't be around to see any long-term consequences for the environment, or maybe it's that I really am too lazy to separate my recyclables and put them in a different bin. I don't renew or reuse. I leave my air conditioner running all day, leave the faucet running while I brush my teeth, fill at least three garbage bags weekly, and never give any of it a second thought.

Maybe the reason is that I have never believed that nature is inherently friendly, that the chirping birds and lovely breeze aren't thin disguises for nature's aggression at our being here at all. A breeze becomes a hurricane and blows a whole town clear off the map. Nature's our friend, in need of our care and protection? No. Nature wants us Out, and frankly she has a point. That's another conversation altogether, but what you call apathy I call "refusing to aid the enemy."

11:02 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

I'm pretty apathetic about everything right now. I'm almost too apathetic to answer the question.

My apathies come about because I don't see anything changing. Culture seems to change not by concerted effort, but by some mysterious coming-together of actions and beliefs and perceptions. I don't get it, and people who are smarter than I am don't get it, and the ones who do aren't making much headway in the changing-the-world department, either.

I'm most apathetic about big national or global issues--environmentalism, politics, and even some aspects of feminism. Not that I can't identify the Good and the Bad; that's partly what a blog is for. But most things don't merit much more effort than a couple paragraphs' worth of commentary. And it's not that I don't care--I just don't care enough to pursue a solution.

PS. Eric, when you said, "[I]t's hard not to see the opening-weekend grosses of 'The Dukes of Hazzard' as a harbinger of something other than doom," did you mean to include that "not"?

PPS. What's the difference between "apathy" and "pessimism"?

3:16 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Something specific: I'm apathetic about supporting local independent stores. That's mostly because I don't buy very much, but when I do, I care more about convenience and price than the social effects of my shopping decisions. When I need light bulbs, for example, I go straight to the light bulb aisle at Target or Cub Foods; I don't want to take the time and effort to look up and get directions to a local hardware store.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

1. Thanks to Ann for catching my rather dumb double-negative error. The offending "not" has been removed, and the sentence's meaning restored.

2. The difference between pessimism and apathy is that the pessimist suspects or presumes things will turn out badly, and the apathetic doesn't care whether things turn out badly or not. The key to apathy--and, so, to the Writing Assignment--is total indifference.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

That makes sense. I was thinking that pessimism couldn't exist alongside of apathy, but now I see that's wrong.

10:46 AM  

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