Back when I was a teenager, I thought there would come a day in my adulthood when everything would click, and I would “get it.” All life’s questions, the heavy and the trivial, would be answered. Reason would kick in, and I’d emerge an enlightened, successful adult. Fast forward oh, so many years, and my youthful assumption is laughable. In fact, the older I get, the less I seem to know. The orderly world preached to me in my youth apparently does not exist. Life, it turns out, is an endless series of predicaments, challenges, and questions, some weighty, some downright stupid, but all never-ending, and the only thing I am certain of is my own uncertainty.

Years ago, the who/what/when/where/how of journalism was clear. We took the media’s due diligence for granted and accepted a substantiated fact as truth. We didn’t have to “vet” our news sources. The world is different now, of course, and savvy consumers proactively seek proven sources for their news. However, the lack of common sense nowadays baffles me. We’re living beneath a blanket of ignorance, and I just don’t get it. The most obvious example of our brainlessness is the never-ending brouhaha surrounding Donald Trump. How on earth has this man charmed the masses and dodged accountability for his many transgressions? Why is a twice impeached self-proclaimed politician with a myriad of legal troubles considered a viable presidential candidate for 2024? Why is an individual with sexual misconduct allegations against him raised upon a pedestal? I just don’t get it.

Moving on to other news, I don’t understand how anyone seeing the videos of the Haitian immigrants wading through neck-high waters, risking their lives to enter the United States, can turn these desperate people away and send them back from whence they came, nor do I comprehend the indifference of those who saw the masses attempting to escape Afghanistan. Why are we not more outraged at the entire situation, President Biden’s botched withdrawal, the Afghan mother tossing her baby over a wall to safety, the fearful escapees clinging to the wings of a departing American plane? Are we so weary, so jaded, that our empathy is depleted? I don’t get it.

Speaking of lack of empathy, I don’t get why people are debating what is clearly intended for the common good, i.e., the Covid vaccine and face masks. Why is there any question here? Where’s our concern for those currently suffering from Covid or at risk? Why can’t we consider another’s well-being as well as our own? While I understand vaccine hesitancy, I do not understand the lack of consideration for how a personal decision can impact an entire community.

How about this: “If you see something, say something,” meaning, of course, if you witness something troubling, speak up! Several witnesses along the path of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie did just that. When these citizens realized they had encountered Gabby and Brian during the couple’s cross-country trip, they immediately spoke up. They did not, however, directly contact authorities. Instead, they came forward via social media. I don’t get it. Why not cut out the “middle man” and go straight to the police? This is related, I suppose, to our current tendency to document all aspects of our lives on Facebook, Instagram, tik-tok, etc. As someone who values privacy and tends to keep things close to the vest, I don’t get the need to put it all out there. I don’t get people who dance on tik-tok or post marriage proposals on Facebook. I don’t get the craving for the spotlight or the need to prove to the world you’re living a grand life. Why not quietly live your life as best you can and allow your neighbor to do the same?

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Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean in residency at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park
Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean at Langosta

The less substantial is also incomprehensible. How is it possible to purchase two pair of jeans in the exact same style and size but only one pair fit? Why doesn’t the hamburger I buy at Wendy’s look as big and juicy as the one on the coupon? Why hasn’t Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise been put out of its misery yet? Why do women and men of a certain age dye their hair with dark colors? Why are people on gameshows, like Big Brother, considered celebrities? Why is “influencer” an occupation? Why do baseball players make millions but police and firefighters do not? Why do we have weird insects, like stink bugs and spotted lantern flies, when we never had them before?

All I can say is, live and let live, and don’t ponder life’s questions. There are no answers.

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Avatar of Anne Mikolay

Anne Mikolay

Anne M. Mikolay joined The Atlantic Highlands Herald as a columnist in 2008. Prior to penning “The Armchair Critic,” Anne wrote feature articles for The Monmouth Journal. Her work has appeared in national...