Thinking about our troubled summer and our wonderful culture

When I started writing this article, I was writing about a crazy nuclear test theory related to “SpongeBob Squarepants,” which discussed the true meaning of Patrick Star’s life under a rock.

I had this grandiose idea about writing this hilarious yet touching article about everything a person needed to know about this summer. If you were not living under a rock this summer, you would know that quite a lot of awful things happened. A part of me wants to scream that the world is a broken, painful place.

I thought about writing an article about the grueling toll of the  Ebola casualties or the seemingly neverending conflict between Israel and Palestine. At first it was easy to make a joke about not flying with Malaysian Airlines, but it ultimately felt hollow. It was scary also to watch the riots in Ferguson, Mo, which reminded me of wars in some third-world countries.

Normally, it is easy to just change the channel and go back to another episode of “Bachelors in Paradise,” but things are a bit different when the news is happening a couple of towns over.

There is a line where I think some levity can be found in these topics but the requisite deftness is beyond my articulation. Instead, I thought it would be good to talk about the brighter side of the world this summer.

After all, the 24-hour news cycle does enough fear-mongering, don’t you think?

My Facebook news feed is annoyingly filled with my friends and people I kind of/maybe/not really know doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I thought it was stupid, but this challenge-gone-viral has led me to personally read up on ALS, as I’m sure it has for other people.

Ultimately, it seems that the exposure the challenge created for its cause is phenomenal. My Facebook was cluttered for a while, but even this stupid 6-second Vine clip did some good.

I spent most of my summer hanging out with family and friends and spending a lot of time consuming all sorts of media. I binge-watched “Orange is the New Black” and I really got involved with the characters and their personal stories.

There were a lot of inappropriate jokes and a lot of drama, but there were also a lot of guts and heart involved—not the literal kind like in “Game of Thrones.” The characters felt like real people and I could not help but fall for each and every one of them.

Along with John Oliver’s new show, which had a 15-minute segment on the state of prisons in America, “Orange is the New Black” made me seriously analyze and contemplate incarceration.

I also got hooked on NBC’s “Hannibal.” In additional to its thoughtfulness and quality production values, “Hannibal” is notable for the sheer amount of bloody, violent, and flat out shocking content, which is featured both implicitly and explicitly. The show is on local TV. The people over at TigerTV can’t even say the word “poop.”

Now, all this arts and entertainment stuff may come off as pointless and trivial in the face of all the seemingly infinite sources of sadness in the world. But I think that there are many ways to care about the world.

My favorite comedies, the great Robin Williams and George Carlin, laughed and joked about the nature of the world but it was clear that, for all their levity, they cared about  and felt compassion towards the world they lived in. Sometimes entertainment can be an expression of that compassion.

Ultimately,  I think the most important way to live life is to try to be as happy as possible while caring about other people along the way.  Life gives us “the chance to give a shit” all the time. It constantly provides us with chances to care and, therefore, to grow.

So maybe, once in awhile, we should take one of these chances, whether that chance involves something completely life changing or just dumping ice water on our heads.

It’s what Star Lord wants and I happen to agree.

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John Mendiola is the Web Master and an Arts & Entertainment Reporter for the Trinitonian. He is a senior computer science and communication major from Houston, Texas (though originally Manila, Philippines). This is his 4th year working for the newspaper.