MidRange

By Ernie Smith

Obsessed With The Bird 🪶

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MidRange
Obsessed With The Bird 🪶
By Ernie Smith • Issue #122 • View online
Personally, I feel bad that Big Bird’s vaccination has upset the same group of loud people who dominate every discussion that aims to divide us culturally.

Here’s a song our culture needs right now.
Here’s a song our culture needs right now.
We live in a world where our actions have consequences, and when we don’t understand those consequences, that’s when bad things happen.
One of those bad things is the spread of COVID-19, which we’ve still yet to shake despite many efforts to do so. (Honestly, that COVID pill can’t come soon enough.)
And part of this comes down to a lack of cultural selflessness or an unwillingness to understand that, when it comes to things like disease, there is a need to think in terms of the collective good, rather than the individual good.
Almost as a way to underline this point, a discussion overwhelmed the social media discourse over the weekend in such a way that made it particularly bad for everyone involved. That tweet, of course, was this:
Big Bird
I got the COVID-19 vaccine today! My wing is feeling a little sore, but it'll give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy.

Ms. @EricaRHill even said I’ve been getting vaccines since I was a little bird. I had no idea!
Now, Sesame Street understands its mission better than @FirstName82828282828 (or whatever that guy calls himself these days) ever has. It was built as a way to educate underserved demographics through television. And because the vaccine has not been available to kids until this past week, the franchise has not been front and center in the vaccine discussion until now.
One notable critic, not appreciating the irony of the comments they’re making, called the tweet “government propaganda,” despite the fact that the Sesame Workshop receives less than 5 percent of its funding from government sources. (Said notable critic ruined my honeymoon, which was to take place at a national park, by forcing a government shutdown during that period.)
But the result has been pretty mind-melding to watch. Seeing Sesame Street become the center of a political firestorm—for simply highlighting by example something that most people want their kids to do anyway—makes me feel like we’ve fallen off a bit of a cultural cliff. We have well-intentioned public information that appears to be getting drowned out by those who gain energy through division. (Probably didn’t help the brain-melting when Biden replied!)
🍂 Muppet History 🍁
What Sesame Street did today is nothing new for them 💛

This is from July 1976. https://t.co/Z0FuinbJ8L
Now one can question whether Sesame Street needed to weigh in on this issue on Twitter, rather than a platform that was less filled with bad-faith loud people, but that feels like a minor part of a deeper discussion here.
The truth of the matter is, we have let our discourse become dominated by folks who wander around the internet, looking for new things to be mad about. They influence other people to do the exact same thing, so everyone is always angry at scale. This isn’t even the first time said notable critic has done this in the calendar year 2021!
Occasionally, those things that these folks get mad about are so silly on their face that they completely undermine the reasons for their anger. And as a culture, we have not properly figured out a way so that the loudest voice in the room doesn’t always win the attention they so desperately crave, but do not deserve. We have millions of people—hundreds of millions—who do not speak out in this way. They don’t ruin our discourse in quite the same way.
As a culture, we need to find ways to ensure that the loudest voices don’t dominate our discourse in every single discussion, because that’s how we get politicians yelling at Big Bird while expecting to be taken seriously.
Related Reads:
Muppet Obscurities: Sesame Street, Jim Henson, Kermit
Historical Parallels: The Power (and Risk) of Historical Context
Time limit given ⏲: 30 minutes
Time left on clock ⏲: 27 seconds
If you like this, be sure to check out more of my writing at Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.
Do you own a newsletter? Want to try your hand at writing an entire article in 30 minutes or less? If so, let’s do a swap—reply to this email to see about setting something up.
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Ernie Smith

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