By Dom Cioffi
There’s an old saying that suggests that every decision we make is either based on love or fear. I’ve always found solace in that proverb and try to remember it when I am evaluating something in my life that requires judgement.
How often do we say things or have an opinion on something that we barely understand? Quite often, we simply have an immediate reaction and that becomes our belief. Those are the moments where I try to ask myself why I think or feel a certain way. And more times than not, I can trace the origin of my opinion back to love or fear.
I also try to extend this point to others. When someone says or does something that brings me immediate agitation, I’ll recite that line in my head and then proceed to break down the possibilities for their stance. It’s amazing how this tiny mental act can defuse an otherwise intolerable situation.
Now, I realize the world is not a black and white place, and forcing it to be such can bring a lot of heartache. But if you’re okay with some broad brushstroke generalizations, that little axiom can help bring some clarity.
Not surprisingly, over the last week, I’ve found myself resorting to this love/fear adage on countless occasions.
The new year obviously got off to a rough start. Most of us hoped that seeing Dec. 31 in our rearview mirror meant better things to come, but it hasn’t started off that way. In fact, it’s jumped to a new level of chaotic.
The news networks have had a field day with the available content, parsing it out to the general public who eagerly soak up every tasty morsel set in front of them. It’s easy to make broad generalizations about our current political and social misfortunes, but I think any learned person would agree, that the ills of our country are multi-layered and not easily discerned.
Like most 16-year-olds, my son barely watches the news. In fact, most of his “news” comes from the comedy channels he watches either on television, streaming services, or YouTube.
But most of his stances on well-known issues are derived from memes, those comical little symbolic messages that find their way around the world via the internet.
I hate to say it, but it seems like we have a whole generation of kids generating opinions based on tiny pictures with a few words of text. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good meme as much as the next guy, but basing an opinion or making a stance because of a meme is dangerous and irresponsible.
My son showed me several memes that originated over the past week. Some were funny, some were poignant, and some were just plain stupid. And a few of them were borderline inappropriate.
I talked to my son about the dangers of passing memes around via his social channels. I also reminded him that the current social environment he lives in is not very forgiving for certain transgressions. One wrong post can follow you for years. At this point, not a week goes by that there isn’t a news story about someone being cancelled because a social mob decided something they said or wrote was deemed offensive.
That’s what makes this week’s film so intriguing.
“No Safe Spaces” is a documentary that examines the current social climate surrounding humor and outspokenness and the seemingly inexhaustible need for the public to ferret out individuals who have crossed the line of what the mob deems offensive.
Commentated by radio talk show host Dennis Prager and comedian Adam Carolla, “No Safe Spaces” visits college campuses to interview students and faculty about their need for safe spaces. The film also delves into various free speech controversies that have occurred over the last few years, including the Jordan Peterson event in Canada and the Bret Weinstein event at Evergreen College.
This is one of those films that gets under your skin. The more I watched it, the more agitated I became. Personally, I don’t like the trend that this film exposes. And while the content is only a year old, there have already been countless more examples of innocent people’s lives being ruined by cancellation.
What I appreciated most about this documentary is that the producers took the time to get opposing viewpoints. One-sided arguments inside documentaries always make me suspicious.
Check this one out if you’re concerned about the social trends occurring in our country and want a well-informed and educated overview.
A vexing “B” for “No Safe Spaces” (available as a rental on multiple streaming services).
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected]