Thursday, October 15, 2009

Apathy is Rampant, But Who Cares?

"Apathy is rampant, but who cares?"
- source unknown

I first ran into that quote sometime in the sixties. Someone must have been the first to use it, but I haven't tracked the source down - with any degree of certainty.

I've used it a few times: On the other hand, I don't think that 'apathy' ("an absence of emotion or enthusiasm" or "the trait of lacking enthusiasm for or interest in things generally" (Princeton's WordNet)) is quite as general a problem as some folks seem to think.

I've seen the sort of fire that events like the Super Bowl light in the hearts of many Americans: and there was a time, when there seemed to be a one-to-one ratio of soccer games to riots, when I thought that soccer fans might benefit from a bit more apathy.

I think the idea that 'apathy is rampant' comes from the general public not sharing an, ah, intense interest in topics like the plight of Abbott's Booby, the mitigating effects of litchi nuts on milk shortages, or the crisis facing Aspen ski resorts. All of which are legitimate topics of interest: and even concern.

But, lack of an intense, borderline-obsessive focus on one topic or another doesn't, I think, indicate "apathy." Unless it's assumed that everybody should have their minds focused on Aspen economics or the fate of a seabird. I've explained elsewhere why I'm "apathetic" by some standards. And, why I'm not all that worried about crises like the absence of trilobites in Earth's ocean.

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