Well, it’s official.

I have insomnia. Every once in a while I’ll get this way. Where no matter what I do, I can’t sleep and only fall asleep after I get mentally exhausted. In college, I used to get insomnia all the time and would stay up studying. This was a sure cure, as nothing makes you more sleepy that reading college textbooks.

So, these days I spend my time at night writing. It doesn’t matter really to whom or what I’m writing, as long as I’m tapping away at the keyboard. So while “Married With Children” is playing its canned laughtrack and my computer hums along quietly, I stay up and think about stuff. Like society, my place in it, and other things that seem to be important until you reflect on them the next day.

Sometimes I wonder why our world is the way it is, and whether there will ever be anything I can do about it. History has shown us that it is possible for a single person to affect a society and culture. And so I wonder if I will ever be motivated enough to become a force among our society. I have the ability to influence a small group of people, as does any person who is good at what they do, whether it’s part of their personal or professional lives. I look at what makes up the American culture and wonder if advertising will always be so dominant, or if people will some day open their eyes and realize that they are being influenced in ways they are not even aware of. I think about how our society seems to revolve around what our culture mandates and how everyone must be perfect. Or how everyone must keep quiet and not speak out against the well-entrenched legions of our cultural cement.

I’m no radical. No, not even close. I don’t dye my hair blue, wear funky clothes, or stand on a corner spouting pre-scripted verse. No, I’m simply a red-blooded American who is becoming sick and tired of the way things are done in this country. How movie stars get paid millions while teachers barely make enough to get by. How political action committees made up of representatives of the largest corporations in the world influence politicians with money, and succeed in getting their way by tying everything up in red tape. How millions of Americans have suddenly forgotten that a book can tell a story so much better than the TV. How people come home and turn the TV on and the brain off.

Granted, there is probably very little that I can do, so I rant and write and get as many people as I can to listen and nod their heads, before they go off and follow the paths that our society has clearly given them.

Recently, I’ve noticed that many of these same people with their brains switched off have discovered the Internet. And chat rooms. Oh my. I remember when chat was worth the time you put into it. This was back in 1993, when you could get into a chat room and discuss high-level topics without someone with a silly screen name asking you how old you are or if you were a girl.

And I realize that the Internet has become a means for mass communication and entertainment, but with a whole lot less emphasis on research, learning, and information distribution.

And so as we all try to figure out who we are in society, what we stand for, and how we can make our mark, the world will continue to revolve whether or not we desperately want to it to stop so we can get off. As it’s clear in my mind that life is and always will be one really wicked ride.

Posted by Cameron Barrett at April 8, 1999 11:59 PM

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