In Defense of Cynicism: The Truth Is Out There

Cynicism has been taken a lot of high-profile hits lately.

Conan O'Brien discusses cynicism on his last episode.Late night talk show host Conan O’Brien, who certainly could have become cynical after the way he was treated by NBC, mentioned cynicism during his final show:

“All I ask of you, especially young people…is one thing. Please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.”

Now, being a self-proclaimed CityCynic, I feel I have to explain that being cynical doesn’t always just mean becoming jaded. O’Brien was right on with his statement. In life, you don’t always get what you want and reacting to that by thinking that nothing will ever go right is absolutely the wrong way to live.

But being cynical doesn’t necessarily mean you think nothing will ever go right. Cynicism is actually about having a healthy skepticism of certain institutions that society leads you to believe can be trust unconditionally.

As Fox Mulder said on The X-Files, "The Truth is Out There"“Trust No One.” That was what the poster said on Fox Mulder’s office wall on The X-Files. Now, David Duchovny’s character certainly had valid reasons not to trust anyone and perhaps what he demonstrated was the jaded brand of cynicism Conan O’Brien called out on his final show.

Luckily, most people don’t live a life that would provoke such a severely negative reaction. And even with the entire federal government after him, Mulder still was able to find that “The Truth is Out There” and to say “I Want to Believe.

And that’s the flipside to cynicism, the idea that while you can’t always believe everything that is presented to you and that doing so might actually endanger your life MUST be balanced by the struggle to discern the truth and the goodness in life from all the distractions that are in the way.

Separating the proverbial wheat from the chaff enables the value of cynicism to emerge. Cynicism can be used as a tool to navigate life. It’s all about how you use it, of course.

American playright Lillian Hellman put it this way:

Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth.

Cynicism is just a way to get at the truth. Many people would rather avoid the truth in certain situations because sometimes it might be easier to just pretend everything is okay even when’s it not. But being oblivious to the truth or ignorant of a situation because you want to avoid it can’t be a healthy way to get through each day.

And lastly, I just want to say that cynicism is not the opposite of optimism. I can see that it may be easy to draw that comparison because a lot of being cynical can often be construed as being negative or pessimistic. That couldn’t be further from the truth in my experience.

I suppose cynicism used improperly can be no better than being pessimistic, however when it is used properly as a tool to navigate through your life, it can help you to hold on to optimism because once you see how things really are, you are able to adapt and thrive.

And isn’t that really what Conan was really getting at? Members of Team Conan would certainly hope their favorite talk show host will see through the nonsense Conan was presented with by NBC so that he can adapt and thrive on another network.

So don’t be negative and jaded, but don’t be ignorant or ignore the truth either. Take the time to investigate life so that you can live a better one.

Strange News Photo of the Day: Pointing at Obama proudly presents the Strange News Photo of the Day for January 17, 2010:

President Barack Obama gets pointed at by a woman in the crowd as he shakes hands at a campaign stop for Democratic senate candidate, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley at Northeastern University in Boston, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2010.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Today’s Strange News Photo of the Day is of Pres. Obama being pointed at by a woman in the crowd at a campaign stop for MA attorney general Martha Coakley.

WHY SO STRANGE? While the news photo is a unique angle of a politician interacting with the masses at a political event, it strangely raises more questions than it answers. Why is this unidentified lady pointing at the President? She doesn’t seem to be blaming him for anything because she is smiling while pointing, so maybe she’s just giving Obama props? (“You’re the man, Mr. President!”)

Or maybe she’s just not too sharp and this photo captured her realizing, “I know you! You’re that president guy!”

And no, this lady is not comedienne Wanda Sykes, although that would probably answer all of our questions about what’s going on here.

Every so often, presents the Strange News Photo of the Day. Do you have a strange news photo you’ve come across that is baffling in it’s meaning or just plain strange? Send us a link to the questionable photo in our comments section on any post and we may feature it next!

Hey, that shirt looks like an ABC reality show logo

As I was mindlessly channel surfing the other night, I came across an ABC reality show called Shark Tank, where millionaire moguls bid on burgeoning entrepreneur’s business ideas. While I found the show mildly amusing, what stuck with me afterwards was the cool show logo featuring skyscrapers and sharks as seen looking up from underneath.

Then I remembered a certain new Threadless t-shirt I had seen recently called Solitary Dream Pt2 by Budi Satria Kwan, which also features skyscrapers and sharks. And while I usually prefer t-shirts with dinosaurs on them, I did plan on purchasing one for myself.

Note any resemblance between the two?

Shark t-shirt vs. Shark Tank

Not only do both designs consist of skyscrapers and sharks as seen from underneath looking up, but they both similarly feature a sun or light source in the upper righthand corner.

I mean, it all could be a gigantic coincidence, especially considering not that many people actually watch (or have even heard of) ABC’s Shark Tank.

But what if Budi Kwan saw the Shark Tank logo and decided to make a t-shirt design based off of it?

Then why stop there? I would like to suggest his next shirt design come from I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Outta Here!:

I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Outta Here!

NBC is moving Jay Leno back to 11:30 time slot

The Jay Leno Show (airing at 10pm weeknights) will go on hiatus on Feb 1 and Jay Leno will return to 11:30pm weeknights after the Olympics end, according to a report on TMZ.

NBC is moving Jay Leno back to 11:30. What about Conan? (Photo credit TMZ.)

NBC experimented with a late night comedy show before the local news in order to save money and because they really didn’t have anything besides Southland to put on at 10pm. (And we all remember how that turned out.)

The move to 10pm proved to be a poor lead-in to the local newscasts, prompting stations to complain about The Jay Leno Show experiment being a ratings disaster.

NBC hasn’t yet announced exactly how they’re going to be able to put Jay back at 11:30 since Conan O’Brien has been in that time zone since he took over The Tonight Show from Leno. It would likely go the way of one of these possible scenarios:

  1. NBC moves The Jay Leno Show to 11:30, but shortens it to a half hour and then runs The Tonight Show at 12:00 and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 1am.
  2. NBC moves The Jay Leno Show to 11:30-12:00 and also shortens The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien to a half hour from 12:00-12:30. Jimmy’s show stays the same, cause everyone’s already sleeping anyway.
  3. NBC moves The Jay Leno Show to the 11:30-12:30 slot and Conan’s Tonight Show moves to 12:30-1:30. (This is probably the least likely scenario, since Conan fought for years to get the 11:30 slot and would almost definitely not go back to 12:30 on NBC.)
  4. NBC gives The Tonight Show back to Jay Leno and Conan gets the $50 million buyout in his contract and is free to entertain offers for the 11:30pm slot on ABC or FOX.

You’d have to figure that if scenario #4 happens ABC would jump at grabbing Conan for 11:30 and push Jimmy Kimmel back to 12:30 to compete with NBC and CBS. Conan – Kimmel? I would so watch that!

And FOX would love to have Conan at 11:30 to have a late night comedy show that would actually COMPETE. (Remember The Magic Johnson Show? Enough said.)

While it remains unclear as to which path the network will take, one thing is crystal clear: NBC doesn’t know what the hell they are doing.

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