Are We Ok With This?

Turn on any daytime ESPN or FS1 show and you’ll likely find a collection of former athletes, anchors and writers discussing inane questions like: “Are We Ok with __________ Doing _______?” Or “What Do You Think of ________’s Upsetting Comments?” “Should _______ Be Fined For _______?” Or some other such nonsense. It’s not always like this and not every commentator is guilty of it but far too many are. It can be called nonsense not because it’s about sports—even the Stoics would agree that sports have value as a form of education and excellence—it’s nonsense because the discussions almost always hinge on opinions about things that have happened or should happen as if having those opinions is anything but a form of mental masturbation. Abdicating their role as translators, contextualizers and experts, they’re taking the easy route of making noise and creating conflict.

The cable news model operates on the same delusional, pointless logic. It’s rarely: “What will be the consequences of what has happened?” or “What can we learn from it?” Instead it’s: “How will they spin this?” and “What is so-and-so’s reaction to what has happened?” and “Why didn’t ____ go differently?” And as a result this is not only a complete waste of the people on television’s time, but a complete waste of the viewer’s time as well.

Understand: The past is indifferent to your opinion about it. The world does not give a shit if you are OK or on board with the events that have just transpired. The same goes for the various alternative futures. You’re not the director of programming here, nor are your comments filtering back to the person who is, prompting them to shift course. You might as well have an opinion on whether Don Draper should or shouldn’t have done this or that. He’s not real, and you’re not writing the script.

The Stoics urge us to steer clear of this endless chatter, rattling talk. There’s more important things to focus on and worry about. More important, they would urge you to be forward thinking, always. So endlessly debating the recent past? Who cares? Discuss and think instead about what you will be doing with this information you’ve been given (because all events are information), what actions you’re going to take here in the present with it and how you’re going to prepare for the future.

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