The Light of the Tiny Screen

Steve looked up from the paper on Sunday morning and said, “Ross Douthat is on a roll.”

In his long Sunday op-ed, “The Age of Decadence,” Ross touches on the nihilism that I wrote about last week. He writes,

The truth of the first decades of the 21st century, a truth that helped give us the Trump presidency but will still be an important truth when he is gone, is that we probably aren’t entering a 1930-style crisis for Western liberalism or hurtling forward toward transhumanism or extinction. Instead, we are aging, comfortable and stuck, cut off from the past and no longer optimistic about the future, spurning both memory and ambition while we await some saving innovation or revelation, growing old unhappily together in the light of tiny screens.

Like me, he doesn’t see political revolution, just stagnation and corruption. He has a few lovely anecdotes — The Frye Festival, Thanos, Uber — meant to highlight the lack of new ideas and the frauds that dominate our world. I have another one.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle emerged from their Canadian igloo to give a speech at a JP Morgan event in Florida last week. According to the gossip blogs, which are always right, they made a cool million with a talk about Harry’s difficulties dealing with his mother’s death and his years in therapy. Apparently, three different countries covered the security for them.

Now, it’s a sad tale, but Harry is the hardly the only person in the world who lost a parent at a vulnerable age and now goes to a shrink. JP Morgan paid him all that money along with a private jet, because he was catnip for super, super, mega rich people, who would then invest money in their bank. Famous people want to meet famous people and then swirl all their beautiful money together and make more money.

The only people who seem to really be bothered about these sorts of events are the basement dwellers who comment on those blogs, who seem to have an unhealthy obsession with this couple. (To be fair, they also hate Prince Andrew and have some very juicy gossip about Uncle Pervy as they call him.)

I have been saddened by the post-presidential Obamas, who seem to have also cashed in on these sorts of events. They aren’t exactly Jimmy Carters quietly building houses for poor people in their spare time.

And as an army of publicists create Instagramable moments for the masses, things are getting worse. Fiddling, while Rome burns.

With a child with special needs, I go to a lot of presentations about how to navigate the system for adults with disabilities. And it’s all bad. As long as Steve and I are around, my kid will be fine, but what happens when we’re gone? What happens if his brother can’t fill the void? What happens to individuals that don’t have parents that have our resources? The lack of any sort of safety net in our country is terrifying. It keeps me up at night, which is when I read the gossip blogs.

I sort of want to delete this post. Pessimism is bad for one’s brand. Screw it. Publishing.