Stumbleupon brought me to an interesting site the other day. The site is Americaisretarded.com. I read through some of the images, though I had to stop as the messages themselves fatigued me. There was too much hate to actually perceive any real message through the columns of insults. It's been a while since I've written a blog, so this site seemed like a good topic to spur the creative juices.
First off, I don't understand all the America hate. I would rather live here than a place where I don't get the luxuries of modern living: TV, high speed internet (that was used to create that little site), clean water, the list goes on. But not only that, I think that focusing on America with these little antidotes is limiting. The internet is worldwide -- to focus on just Americans browsing and editing in the web is very unfair. You need to include the very high usage rates in other countries as well. Even if you only include English-speaking countries you will notice that some of these arguments the site makes apply even farther than the borders of the USA. Mindless entertainment exists in many countries -- not just America.
This site also possesses an unrealistic view of the way people think: for example, LoLcats is hardly the "best" thing on the internet, as they claim. People come together on the web to share a myriad of information. There are blogs written by wonderful people to inspire and bring people together; there are lengthy well thought-out debates about international policy, philosophy, religion, and current events more in-depth than any debate most people have; there are networks of artists who come together to share and critique work in order to improve upon and master their craft; there are many people in many places who do more than just play farmville and make image macros of cats.
Even then, entertainment does not reflect the intelligence of people as a whole. Entertainment can be intellectual escape. It's why reality TV is popular. It's why pictures of cats with badly written text across them are so heavily viewed on the internet. Some people need this escape and they use the internet for it. Many people work hard during the day or go to classes for hours on end. Why should they be deemed as "retarded" for allowing themselves mental relief in the form of lower humor? I certainly won't judge anyone for doing so. I believe it is unfair to judge anyone on the entertainment value they find out of stupid things especially if it harms no one.
I also find the site itself hypocritical. One image talks about the fact that we could do so many great things if we put our minds to it and yet the site is a bunch of sloppy images pointing out the "flaws" of America. What is the site creator doing, I wonder? Certainly not helping, unless saying something is "retarded" actually solves any problems.
I guess what bothers me the most about this site is the negativity. I would rather bring up a point logically, cite my reasoning with more than just a picture and a half-sentence, and not resort to petty name-calling and insult-slinging. And after citing a problem sometimes it is helpful to bring up proposed solutions and work your way towards bringing about a better tomorrow.
It is unclear what the point of this site is in the end. If it is just to point out how "retarded" America is, then there really is no legitimate purpose to it other than needless negativity. If it is to bring about some sort of change, then maybe that change should be made clear. Saying things need to change is not the same as actually doing something to change things.
Pointing out rude and negative things by being rude and negative only adds more rudeness and negativity to the world. I think the best way for us to work toward a better future is to try and be positive and do your part in helping others. It may not be fast and it may not be easy, but every person can make a difference.
But a message like this won't get thousands of likes. The negative one will. The site owner(s) and the people faving it continue to think they are making a difference by spreading negativity around and not doing anything more to change it are certainly not helping any of the problems the site addresses. Honestly, it may even make the problem worse as there are so many people who could be moved to action with a powerful and provoking message that are just moved to apathy with the site.
But what do I know.
I laugh at LoLCats.