Some of my Facebook “friends” post status updates and memes that are abhorrent to me. Occasionally they’ll write something so wrong or misleading that I just have to comment and an argument usually ensues. In these moments, I’m often tempted to “unfriend” these people. I don’t do it for one reason: I want to keep my finger on the pulse of their arguments. I want to be in touch with the kinds of argument and thinking that is used. Why? I don’t know. Maybe so that I can more effectively disarm them in future arguments? I don’t really think I’m that calculating.
The reality is that I work in the Liberal Arts, and like everyone else who is part of a cultural microcosm (i.e. everyone), I am surrounded by people who often have similar political and philosophical beliefs. I’m so immersed in my culture that I am frequently shocked by some of the thinking and arguments that get made outside of that circle. My thinking is that this is even more reason to keep these people as friends–to stay current on other perspectives.
All of that is to say that I had the opportunity to visit Las Vegas last weekend. I’ve visited the city four times now, which seems odd because it is so out of the way and not a destination that I seek out. And yet, somehow, I keep ending up there. I can enjoy Vegas for what it is. My mom commented that the city is repulsive (though she enjoyed her time there). And it is repulsive. It is completely, unnecessarily over the top, wasteful, and excessive. Vegas is many things, but it is not good for the soul. However, I think it is important for people to see Vegas. I think it serves as a reminder that hordes of people are seeking out places like this for recreation and entertainment. This is what recreation means to millions of people each year. (One of the only good things about Vegas is that dancers, gymnasts and Cirque du Soleil-type performers can make a good living with their art.)
Like some of my “friends” on Facebook, I don’t agree with Vegas. I think it represents a lot of what is wrong with humanity in terms of excess and disconnect. Despite that, I think it is important to go and see and try to understand that this is the reality. It’s a way of staying tuned in to what’s really happening out there for my fellow humans. Sometimes this is hard to remember while I’m over here practicing yoga, gardening, and actively recycling.