By Lloyd Dennis

I am now convinced that most of our humanity has become distorted, that our perceptions, opinions, emotional reactions are no longer formed by our real realities as defined by our actual experiences and relationships, but now are being supplemented and perhaps superseded by exposure to a constant bombardment by a virtual reality created by media, be it journalistic or not. The emotional part of us cannot tell the difference.

One example that touches home for me is the fear too many people have of black men they don’t know, even among black people. A fear which often has no basis in a person’s personal experiences, but is based on media images that rarely display the gentle, educated, responsible and accomplished black male, but over displays the thug, in both journalistic and entertainment media. Many black entertainers make millions selling that imagery.

My point is not to blame anyone, but simply to point out that how you and I feel about this or that may have nothing to do with what we have personally experienced in our lives, and more to do with what we watch on TV, listen to on the radio and stream or go to see at the movies.

I learned to not flip through catalogs, or watch shopping channels, or scan the Sunday paper sales supplements. One day I realized that before I looked through the catalog, I didn’t want anything. My life wasn’t saying that I needed anything, but once I flipped through the pages, I desired stuff, had to have stuff, so I don’t do that anymore and the internet helps, because when your life tells you you need something, or want something to do something you like to do, you can Search for it and see what you are looking for, without flipping pages. You still have to be careful, looking to the right or the bottom of the page will tempt you with “people who bought this also bought that”, things you didn’t come to buy.

I guess my point is that we should always question our own feelings, the first question being where did that feeling come from, and who benefits from me feeling this way. Everything from the soda we drink that is making us sick to the bigotry that keeps working and struggling people divided was planted in people to benefit and provide profits for someone else.

I’ve reached the point that my preference for watching what little TV I watch is using Windows Media Center to record them so I can skip the commercials. Oh yeah if you went for the hype and “upgraded” to Windows 10, you no longer have Media Center and can’t record TV. So, I’ve also learned that when someone is selling “New and Improved” , you have to ask, “Improved for who, you or me?”

Hell, if I have to watch TV in real time, I will leave the room for the commercial breaks, that now are sometimes five or six minutes. I can get something done, rather than have someone fill my emotions with feelings of guilt, sexual inadequacy, or social insecurity about my penis or rash if I don’t buy your stuff.

So, some of you are asking, “Damn dude isn’t that a lot of effort?” Yep, but my serenity is worth it. Man, imagine if you didn’t feel like you need all that stuff, you want… Most of the stress you feel comes from those feelings about needing to have this or that to be happy, respected, desirable, cool, accepted…

Actually, The image that I use to center myself is of a dog chasing his tail. The harder you try, the faster it goes… and its funny as hell to anybody who sees it for what it is…

So, back to the point. I prefer to concentrate on my reality, my relationships, my experiences, as in treating everyone based on my interactions with them, not a stereotype, and focusing my concerns and energy on things in my environment where I can make a contribution because after all, that’s why I’m here, and the more I can keep the sellers and racist and naysayers out of my head, the happier… and more productive I will be.

Lloyd Dennis is a living legend in New Orleans.  You can find info at his website.

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