Human Frailty in Today’s Culture


Nowadays, when you make a boo-boo, the world can know instantly; so why let it?


The label of “hero” has been rightfully pointed out by amongst others, The Wall Street Journal editorial board, as a promiscuously applied moniker. Recently, it has also taken a hit with the stories of Lance Armstrong and Manti Te’o who have been revealed as flawed heroes: in other words, human‏.

Today, with the mass application of the title hero to and celebritization of those who would have had a Scarlett Letter  social standing 50 years ago (see: the Kardashians), this presents a problem as almost inevitably many ostensible heroes will show their weaknesses and thus be labeled as less than perfect and flawed. Perhaps the term “flawed hero” is itself a redundancy in terms.  Assuming “hero” will always be a title ascribed only to humans, and given that all humans are flawed, we must then accept that so too will all of our heroes be imperfect.

For many centuries, the town crier was one of the only forms of mass communication that could reach only people within his earshot. Now, social media can spread news, savory and otherwise, around the world in nano-seconds to a countless number of people. User beware!


In Mr. Te’o’s story, the Notre Dame football player claimed to have a girlfriend who died, he did not as she did not exist  and someone tricked him into believing such, with his extraordinary gullible help.  Jason Gay of The Wall Street Journal observed that “it is easy to see in Te’o’s story the treacherous creep of melodrama into sports—the insistence that every good athletic accomplishment be supplemented by a heart-rending tale” (“The Truth About Te’o’s Truth”, January 25, 2013). Te’o’s embarrassment (to the extent such arcane phenomena still exists with people under 40) is the byproduct of our “bare-all” culture that a large portion of society has devolved into. The “rocket booster,” to borrow a term from Journal editorialist Dan Henninger, for this emotional glasnost is social media (Facebook, twitter). No matter how you’re feeling and regardless of the superficiality (or stupidity) of the thought, you share it with the world, immediately and unfiltered. For all too many, this is their 15 megabytes of fame, to play on Andy Warhol’s thought, even if few care let alone pay attention to such mind droppings (see: “Facebook: People’s 15 Megabytes of Fame”, The Daily Yap, August 7, 2011).

And athletes and entertainers as well as the rest of society buy into this which works well and therapeutically except until the revelation shows the foible(s) of human nature, as in Te’o’s case. Suddenly, what seemed like an inspirational story a la Lou Gehrig’s farewell address turns into an embarrassing admission of bad judgment which is all too common amongst all of us and better left private.

Maybe the pre-1960s generations were on to something by not gracing the world with every psychological or emotional flatulation they experienced.

-I.M. Windee

One Comment to “Human Frailty in Today’s Culture”

  1. Coleman Edwards says:

    In order to understand, I had to break this article down.

    Responsorial Regarding: “Nowadays, when you make a boo-boo, the world can know instantly; so why let it?”
    (a haiku)

    Bicycle pains groin,
    Many times a lie, always win,
    Hell burns very hot!

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