Super Bowl LVI happened over the weekend, and like many others, I gathered with family and friends to watch the game. The objective is simple; eat too much food, make random observations about the players and refs, and of course, enjoy the game. One element of the Super Bowl experience is the half time show, and as usual this halftime show has generated a lot of buzz. Not as much as the scandalous “wardrobe malfunction” of course, but nevertheless people are talking.
I am older than the Super Bowl era, so as far as my taste in music goes I usually enjoy the older, “classic” performers.
I am not familiar with Hip Hop, so although these performers were closer to my generation, for me they were not my favorite genre. Nevertheless I enjoyed the show, and I enjoyed watching aging millennials re-living their youth.
At the end of his performance Eminem “took a knee”. He knelt down and rested his head in his hand. To me, it looked like he was just puffed out from his performance. After all, he is past his youth, and it was an energetic performance. So honestly, I thought “Good for him, he gave it his all, and now he is winded”.
It wasn’t until I started to see all the social media buzz that I realized there was some meaning or significance to what he did. Some commentators attributed it to BLM, some to anti-Trump sentiment, some suggested it was a nod of support for Colin Kaepernick. Others made fun of it. Tongue in cheek, suggesting it was in support of Tim Tebow, or bowing in prayer.
I don’t know enough about Eminem to have an opinion, or even really to care, but my point is this. I saw him do something, and to me it seemed innocuous and insignificant… but then social media kicked in. Suddenly I began to form an opinion about an action which previously had little meaning or significance to me.
I am afraid this is typical of what happens to all of us. We observe an action or an event and we go blithely about our day, blissfully unaware, and unaffected by the event or its meaning… until social media kicks in. Then, whether we want to or not we are fed opinions and interpretations of the event. We are told what we should think, how we should feel, who we should hate, and who we should support. We find ourselves engaged in a arguments that hours before, we couldn’t care less about. We get caught up in the rhetoric and emotion. We become angry, agitated, and opinionated, and we don’t even know why. And, when it is all said and done, nothing will have changed and none of it will really matter.
Eminem took a knee. So what? Was he protesting? Was he praying? Was he puffed out after his performance? I don't know. Eminem took a knee and the internet is riled up about it. Did anything change? I don't know.
Eminem took a knee, and I really didn't think much about it, until the internet started telling me what I should think about it.
I should point out that this is not a commentary on the merit of what Eminem did, but rather a commentary on the effects of social media. I wonder how much less stress, anxiety, and angst we would all have if we stopped listening to the plethora of on-line voices whose only purpose, it seems, is to tell us what to think and to keep us in an artificial state of stress, anxiety and angst?
Am I saying we should be indifferent to the world around us? No, not at all. But I will say this. Jesus told us to be concerned about our neighbor, our brother, and the stranger who lives near us. The internet has given us access and visibility to the whole world, but I can’t change the world. I CAN change my world, and the lives of the people God has put within my reach. Being constantly bombarded with opinions and rhetoric about the events of the whole world not only produces anger, anxiety and stress, it also produces a level of hopelessness and despair because I can’t change the whole world.
Maybe, if you work really hard YOU will make a difference beyond YOUR world, I hope you do…but Jesus said start with your family, start with your neighbors, start with your strangers who live within your community. Start seeing, and hearing, and touching the the lives of those around you.
Stop fussing about the actions and opinions of people you will never meet. Eminem took a knee, and lots of people on the internet have an opinion about it, but by tomorrow it will be yesterday's news. Remember what a big deal the "wardrobe malfunction" was? You had forgotten about that too until I mentioned it at the beginning of this article!