There's a billboard outside my office window. It invites anyone to share their "underdog" story on the facebook page of a tire company.
I can only conclude that the tire company is willing to splurge for a Times Square billboard because there is conclusive evidence to suggest our collective need to be heard shows no signs of waning anytime soon. Also then, I imagine someone has figured out that after posting a personal story on a facebook page, people might feel more connected to a tire brand. (And buy those tires?)
When I see things like this I am overcome by an impulse. And it's not a good one. I feel this overwhelming urge to put down my pen forever and never write another word.
I'm serious. No joke. That's how put-off I am by our EVERYONE-HAS-A-STORY-ALL-STORIES-ARE-OF-EQUAL-VALUE culture. Ugh!
How many MFAs in creative writing can one culture absorb?
Why should EVERYONE be encouraged to express themselves in writing? Some of us just aren't good writers. Some of us might be a lot happier, in fact, if we were encouraged to spend less time posting every little thought or feeling to facebook and twitter and instead planted ourselves on the sofa with a good novel for an afternoon.
John Guare has a wonderful line toward the end of his play House of Blue Leaves where someone onstage says something to the effect of: "The most fabulous thing in the world is to be an audience." I'm sure I'm butchering the line. (if anybody can quote it verbatim, by all means, help me out please)
But the idea is a powerful one.
We need more ears and eyes. We need more observation and absorption--If we want our culture to survive.