Late at ‘leven last night, I watched the beginning of Lopez’ talk show, amused as this middle-aged guy who (on TV) looks short, baggy suit covering up who knows what kind of body… The camera flashed across the crowd of hundreds of screaming, shouting people, many of which looked fit and mostly young and one that surely had to be Van Damn (spittin image.) Dancing across the stage in what seemed to be his version of a mash-up ‘tween a banty-weight contender dancing in the ring and the smooth moves of a ’90s punker falling into a mosh pit.
Not too complementary, I thought — yet look at the audience going wild for him. Must love his humor… And he opens his mouth and says, “Hey! Everybody relax! You’re screaming for a forty-eight year old man…” (pause for laughs) “…who looks better with his clothes on!”
In a weird way, guests to his show are almost like people going to church. Well — a good church. It’s not that they “worship” Lopez, but they love feeling good, and being there with everyone else who’s feeling good — it’s powerful. Smiling even at total strangers as they laugh at Lopez’ humor, and getting high on a kind of group drug without needing the drugs. It’s just a good place to be with everyone at a scene like that. Like church — you know — a good one anyway.
What brought them all together? What fired up this mass of strangers into some sort of a crazy, yelling engine of laughter?
Communication. Lopez has learned how to communicate. His skill isn’t so much in how to read a joke with good tiiming. It’s how to read people and feed right back to them what he reads in them. He jokes about his 48 year-old body and how good it is for everyone’s sake that he can keep his clothes on… and the “joke” touches a place in everyone there who’s conscious about their own bodies — fear that they really don’t want anybody to see past the careful arrangement of clothing or smug satisfaction that if they weren’t in their clothes, lots of people would be very, very happy. But everyone there has body image issues. Serious, body image issues. If they didn’t, Lopez could joke about it and everyone would stare at him wondering what in hell he was talking about.
See — Lopez knows what’s going on inside the people who come to be entertained. He jokes about the economy being so bad. He kids about sexual relationships being so touchy. He tells about some guy getting shafted on his job and what he wishes he could do to his boss or the other employees or the customers he’s supposed to service and satisfy… Lopez jokes about all the stuff in everybody’s normal, daily lives that hurts so much of the time. And it gives them an opportunity to “touch” the sore places inside their lives and laugh. That feels good.
Doesn’t change anything — but it feels good. And that changes something. A little. Don’t knock it — it’s fun to laugh occasionally between crying spells.
Something really great is happening in a crowd like that. Sometimes crowds get together and things really bad happen. But this crowd — what’s happening is a good thing. And it’s still a lot like church. (Well… you know, not just any church…) It’s communion. Some people reading this know about “communion” at church, but I’m not talking about that That’s just an old play or skit religious guys do with juice and crackers. Communion is when a bunch of people walk into a place together (like in Lopez’ huge studio) and something happens and suddenly they connect. They were just 800 or so individuals, but when the electricity shots through the crowd, everybody’s friends.
“Communion” and “communication”: notice the similarity? (Maybe I should ask if you even noticed their difference, firsdt!) They both start with “com-” and “uni-” When all of us English speakers were all speaking Latin (about two, three thousand years ago) both “com-” and “uni-” meant something “coming together” — becoming one. You know, “united”. Both pieces of the word mean “coming together”, so the words “communion” and “communication” have like twice the bang for the buck. By putting “union” words together twice, it’s like saying, “coming together and being one” intense.
Lopez? He brought everyone together (communion) by his skillful monologue (communication).
This is the OP (uh — “original post”) for this blog, “EmDog’s Unsocial Networking”, but there’s a point to this blog — and (ba-ba-boom!) it’s about communi-
(Like, “communication”, “communion” and even “community”.)
The Internet is the greatest, flea-ridden dog of a communication tool the world has ever seen. On one hand, at this point in our technology, you don’t often get to see who you’re communicating with, you don’t get to hear their voice or sit down and have a beer with them in a sterile, smoke-free California bar and grill. In fact, whoever you’re “talking” with (communicating with) can tell you they’re hot, young and a surfer dude when they’re really… well, not. That’s a real limitation to “communication”.
But on the other hand — I can discover people to talk about stuff with that interests me (and them), share ideas, help ’em feel better about something really hard they’re going through, share a joke or a new rumor floating through cyber-space — and I can do with with someone living in South Africa, India, Ethiopia or Singapore.
And I HAVE communicated with people in ALL those places! Superficial as it may be, dog-eared and flea-ridden of a disreputable medium for communication, the Internet is still the greatest advancement in world-wide communication to come in the last 2,000 years. (The last really GREAT advance in international communication was the Roman Empire: under the iron fist of Rome, all the known world back then spoke one language (Greek), had peace shoved down their throats (the Roman “Pax” enabling people to travel freely and safely over the whole empire) and had the roads to travel (which roads still exist today in many parts of Europe!)
All these Roman “inventions” allowed the people of the known world to intermingle, talk, share ideas, philosophies and religions with nearly complete safety. In fact, the religion of Christianity would never have spread across the known world back then, and touched the lives of so many people, had it not been for the violent domination of that world by Rome.
But today, the Internet is bringing about much the same kind of international communications as happened in the days of Rome. Except it’s connecting people more powerfully. We haven’t paved new roads across the globe, but we’ve built an electronic Net connecting everywhere to everywhere. We haven’t established a new “Roman Pax” but we’ve learned how to carefully sneak electronically across hostile borders. And we haven’t made everyone learn Greek — but the entire world today has been learning English, and it gives us the same kind of inter-cultural communication that Greek did in Nero’s day.
I don’t know if Joe Smuck (he lives across the street from me, the house with the brown and white Jack Russell?) will ever read this blog — but he might. Yet it’s just as likely my friend Ling (in Singapore) might read it. And though the reading of this blog isn’t very important on the stage of human existence as a whole — still the reality that these disparate persons — unlikely to ever connect in a geographical sense — can connect in significant, personal and even life-transforming ways… now THAT is important.
Ultimately, anything that has ever greatly changed the world (for good or bad) has not happened in isolation. It’s happened because of the connection of ideas and values and knowledge between human beings. Today, that’s happening across barriers of distance, of politics, even of culture, via the Internet. Good, bad or flat out ugly at times, the Internet has ushered in the greatest Revolution in human life we’ve ever seen. Those who ignore it, who don’t creatively imagine new ways of making use of the Net, are going to be left behind the constantly evolving masses of people who are in a communion of communication as never before.
In Caesar’s day, many people throughout the Roman empire never even left the isolated, back-water villages in which they’d grown up and eventually died. Despite the miracle of connectivity offered by Rome, they were satisfied to remain provincial, insular and isolated country rustics.
Isn’t it the strangest thing that a person can live in one of the world’s greatest, metropolitan cities — a New York or Singapore or London or Rio — and by ignoring the Internet, be an isolated, insular country bumpkin in the midst of millions of human beings?
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