Everybody's Weird 

Love/hate your neighbor.

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Some people condemn the Internet, but not I. I don’t merely embrace it for all the wondrous things I derive from it, like glimpses of nude celebrities, pictures of cats sleeping with alligators and insect recipes (lovin’ them grubs!). No, I like the Internet for a very special reason: I finally have proof that Utah is not the weirdest place in the world.

I used to think Utah was a place comprised primarily of wacky religionists, zealots, bigots and closed-minded citizens, all living in the cul-de-sac of life. Utah may indeed be all of that, but thanks to the Internet, I’ve come to understand that Utah isn’t alone. The entire country—maybe the whole world—is comprised of wacky religionists, zealots, bigots and closed-minded people. The only difference is that in some parts of our country, residents don’t live, like we do, in quiet cul-de-sacs. They live in igloos.

I used to think that only I and a few other people had any sense at all. But that train has left the station. I’m as screwed up as everyone else; I just didn’t know it until now. The proof that I have no sense is that I remain in Utah. The only difference between my equally screwed up Utah neighbors and me is the level at which we both claim to be enlightened. We’re all so screwed up we can’t see that we’re all screwed up. And now, thanks to the Internet, I’ve discovered that even if I wanted to run, there’s nowhere to run to.

I’ve lived in Nevada, where Sharron Angle—a tea party darling—raised $14 million in campaign funds during the past quarter and may become the state’s next United States senator. So, Utah and Nevada—despite their polarity when it comes to morality—may have equally weird senators. Ours is Orrin Hatch. On the other hand, many people find Harry Reid weird because he is a Mormon Democrat from sinful Nevada and a champion for the Left.

I could move back to Illinois, the Land of Lincoln, but that’s a weird place, too. In Chicago, one can have an $80 breakfast, while mere shadows away people are pulling sandwich bits from a dumpster. Neither diner understands the other. Chicago is the land of Obama. It’s also the picture of everything wrong with Obama. Both sides consider the other weird.

Rich or poor. Mormon or non-Mormon. Republican or Democrat. Independent or independent. Religious or atheist. War or anti-war. Black or white. Racist or a racist who claims to not be a racist. Mexican or Canadian. Greek or a person who wants to be Greek—it doesn’t matter, because across America we are divided along very distinct lines and each side looks like an alien to the other. We think of each other as weird. We think we’re not weird ourselves, because someone else is certifiably weirder. But, we’re all weird.

As if things couldn’t be weird enough, God and Al Gore invent the Internet. With the Internet, we all become the emperor with no clothes. We think we’re smart when we post or say something online. But, if there’s one among you who hasn’t sent an e-mail with words and a tone you regret, I want to shake your hand. Who hasn’t posted something on Facebook, MySpace or Twitter that instantly brought group shame to you? By not posting an anonymous comment about someone you despise, you’re in a shrinking minority.

If you think the Internet empowers you, you’re in a growing majority. Trouble is, you don’t really know who your friends are. Right now, there is a Facebook page called “I Support Boyd Packer” that is attempting to reach 100,000 fans. Gee, that’s nice. I’d like to see all 100,000 of those folks in one place and at one time. How long do you think it would take for a fight to break out between the rich and poor supporters of Boyd Packer? Democrats and Republicans? While it feels good to sanction hate (of gays) by expressing love (for Packer), in the end, they will find ways to hate each other, too. I find that weird.

Alaskans love and hate Sarah Palin. In Greece, they love and hate the Greek Orthodox Church. In Philadelphia, they love or hate Geno’s or Pat’s for cheesesteaks. Until the Internet, I never knew all of that. I thought Utah was the hurricane eye of everything weird. Nope, Utah isn’t weird—you are.

John Saltas:

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