Comedy is one of the best ways to shine a light on uncomfortable truths. With that in mind, let’s take a look at this scene from the very first episode of the classic TV show Get Smart.
Notice anything familiar? I noticed at least six things that I’d like to relate to what I see going on in social media and the general culture today.
The Cone of Silence can be seen as a metaphor for modern-day echo chambers where people can yell at each other all they like without producing any positive results or conveying useful information. A lot of discourse today is done in a way that prevents honest communication and encourages obfuscating the truth. Certain words and topics are simply off limits if we don’t want to be attacked and lose our livelihoods.
Like a Game of Telephone
Max and the Chief’s words keep getting garbled as they try to figure out what each other is saying. “KAOS” leads to “1957,” which leads to “Agent 57,” which leads to “Hong Kong.” At that point, they are halfway around the world from where they started and where they’d like to be. It’s easy to put words in people’s mouths and garble their messages. We see it happen all the time in the news.
Getting Trapped in Random Tangents
The two stray so far from the subject they started with that the Chief stops and asks Max, “Why are we talking about Hong Kong?” Have you ever gotten stuck in a line of reasoning that doesn’t make sense, like being told you need to accept a certain political message or else you’re racist? Some ideas are getting linked together when they’re really miles apart.
It’s easy to misinterpret the meaning of someone’s words when we can’t hear them clearly or when we aren’t coming from the same place mentally. Eventually, being misunderstood can bubble up into anger, as in the case of the Chief at the end when he can’t escape the Cone of Silence without making a great effort.
Separated for Their Own Safety
I remember thinking the Cone of Silence was a funny concept when I was a kid, but with the fear of COVID-19 continuing to ramp up, this might just be a taste of things to come. We may reach a point where we can’t have face-to-face conversations in formal settings without physical barriers separating us from others.
Just Talk Softly
In the end, Max and the Chief are forced to abandon the Cone of Silence because it makes talking impossible. Trying to stifle speech doesn’t work. People who want to be heard in the face of being shut down and silenced will just find another means of expressing themselves, whether it’s another online platform or even violence. It’s best to remove barriers to speech and let people say basically whatever they like. We don’t have to listen to everyone, but it doesn’t hurt for people to speak their minds and initiate conversations.
Let’s Get Smart
I recommend following the Chief’s lead and lifting the Cone of Silence that is stifling our ability to talk about things that may be offensive but are nevertheless true. But that doesn’t mean we have to be mean in our conversations. I’m grateful to live in a country that is protected by the First Amendment, and I hope we will all get smart when it comes to defending our liberty and being respectful to others.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
The video clip is the copyright of its owner.