The national-anthem protest lodged by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kapernick could have sparked needed conversations on a number of subjects: on the treatment of black Americans, which is Kaepernick’s stated goal; on patriotism’s place in society; on the importance of symbols.

We seem to have skipped any and all of that, because those are hard conversations to have. Instead, we’ve proceeded straight to the following headlines (some of which are from this very publication):

And so on, because we’ve been conditioned to care about what famous people think about other famous people. But why? Does it really matter what NFL coaches, or Tony Stewart or Jim Brown think of Colin Kaepernick? Does anyone truly wake up in the morning and think, “You know, I sure hope someone in the White House is asked about Colin Kaepernick.”

The answer, judging by our Web traffic, is yes. Again, The Post is just as guilty of feeding this beast as anyone else, this writer included.

From there, things metastasize on social media. Twitter eggs shout at pundits. Pundits respond in kind. The talking-head shows, whose job it is to kill time between actual sporting events, hammer the story until there is literally no meat left on the bone. Links are shared on Facebook by acquaintances who otherwise have no outward interest in sports. They saw it on “Good Morning America.” Micro-arguments ensue in the comments.

Soon it’s a hot-take Mexican standoff, and we’re no closer to a conversation about the actual issues at hand than we were before Kaepernick decided to remain seated during a song. And then, a few days from now when the 49ers finally figure out what to do with him, it will all start up again because someone will ask Jim Harbaugh or whoever what he thinks about Kaepernick not winning the starting job. And on, and on, an on.

Eventually, we’ll move on to whatever aggrieves us next, everyone shouting loudly but saying very little.