When I’d want to get my youth group kids to stand back and really take a critical look at something that was a big part of their lives, I would invite them into a little exercise that could have been called “alien ethnography.” I would encourage them to see the all-too-familiar in a new way by asking them to step out of their cultural selves, become inhabitants of another planet, and then “land” in the midst of themselves to observe, record, and process what they encounter. Weird. I know. But it was helpful.
Sometimes we need to step back, sacrifice our subjective attachments and ignorance, and take a long hard look at where we’ve come from, who we are, and where we’re going. Now that we’re swimming in a relatively new and uncharted ocean of reality TV, voyeurism, and celebrity-worship, I think it’s good to climb out of the water to take a look at how the water we’ve been swimming in is shriveling our selves.
Brian Williams ushered us into an alien ethnography of sorts last Friday night with introduction of the report on what’s happening with our cultural obsession over the Anthony trial. I’m not following what’s happening in Orlando, nor do I want to. But I couldn’t let this one pass.
So, separate yourself out and land in the midst of this report. Give it a good look. It offers a short and discouraging peek into what we’ve become.