I am a well-educated, literate woman of 53 years;.. I am a bit of a fanatic about word usage, grammar, and punctuation, and I am unafraid of writing tools, such as a thesaurus, a dictionary, and a word-rhyme web page. I am also careful, usually, to proofread and edit my work before I publish anything. I am likely to read through the post first, to ensure the smooth flow of vocabulary for readers of any age, and any level of comfort with the written word. I owe my parents thanks for their support in my growth as a reader and a writer.
I am not bragging. This information But yesterday, I learned the meaning of a word I’ve used many, many times, without any real knowledge of my vocabulary. That word is Entropy. This is the definition, according to Dictionary.com.
[en-truh-pee] Show IPA
1. Thermodynamics .
a. (on a macroscopic scale) a function of thermodynamic variables, as temperature, pressure, or composition, that is a measure of the energy that is not available for work during a thermodynamic process. A closed system evolves toward a state of maximum entropy.
2. (in data transmission and information theory)
a measure of the loss of information in a transmitted signal or message.
3. (in cosmology)
a hypothetical tendency for the universe to attain a state of maximum homogeneity in which all matter is at a uniform temperature (heat death)
4. a doctrine of inevitable social decline and degeneration.
I could assume the meaning of entropy from its context, but I was always a little puzzled by the idea of increasing entropy. Entropy is the state of disarray, or, as the definition above states, the amount of energy that is not available. So, increasing entropy means decreasing order, increasing chaos. It’s not a difficult idea, once I realized that I must think in terms of “not not,” the double negative in concept, if not in actual words.
With that refined understanding, I can safely state my opinion that the entropy of American society is increasing at an extremely accelerated rate. I’m not talking about any one instance or even type of instance. From kids who kick their feet and holler in the grocery store, when they don’t get the latest sugary cereal; to their parents, who began at when the kids were 2, maybe — anything little Junior and Juniorette want is automatically provided. I think the parents are trying to avoid temper tantrums, and later, the truth that their children are unafraid of calling Social Services and turning Mom and Dad over to the authorities for almost any reason. That is an important tool for children who are being abused, but not for spoiled tykes who aren’t getting the video game they want.
Or then walk into one of box stores that line the streets near any center of population. This happens everywhere, but I am thinking in particular of big hardware stores. Walk to the electrical department, and ask one of the bored 20-year-old associates to explain the workings of a lamp, and watch for the dull stare. The stores are likely no longer interested in customer service — at least their hiring and training departments support that belief. Kids are not taught personal responsibility when they are young, so they are uninterested in doing more than they need to collect their paycheck.
I know I am ranting about kids and young adults, but the rest of us are part of the growing chaos, as well. Consider the level of unemployment — recently we are making a slight comeback, though we must remember that the numbers don’t reflect what types of jobs. Part times, or no benefits, or both going to brain surgeons and engineers, who can find no other work. A broken social economy fits with the rest of the chaos.
Finally, and with as little drama as possible, the entire hyper-religious radical Right in politics. Much of the problem arises from so-called conservative radio hosts, who are mostly interest in name-calling, and in scaring the population that listens to them. The name-calling, I can hold out longer than you, Republicans and members of the Tea Party have brought about a nasty division which cannot be bridged unless one side of the Legislature gives in to the other side — a winner/loser condition that is shameful and sad. Attack ads, filibusters, outright lies, refusal even to consider talking to each other — just normal politics nowadays. Burgeoning wars, abandoning the less fortunate, ignoring workable programs to provide health to everyone; all are examples of increasing entropy in our society.
Do I have a solution to the problems we face — frankly, absolutely not. I can’t even find a clue. I know communication is a big part of the answer: Parents telling children why kicking and screaming will not get them what they want. Children and parents together looking for the value of and the need for honesty and personal responsibility; employers insisting on involvement from their employees, and providing the training to bring that about; government agencies, Legislators, leaders of this country who all agree to return to sanity, to grow up and be adults, to talk to each other. Actually, that is also personal responsibility. That is what we need, if we want to turn the tide and begin to decrease entropy.
This sounds like a hopeless situation, but it isn’t. The way we will change this direction is first as individuals. I accept the personal responsibility to treat others with much care, and to catch myself if I slide back. I will treat others as I hope they will treat me, with the respect that is common courtesy, so lacking in this world.