Is it just me, or is modern Western society saturated in 24-hour entertainment, a lot of which is mindless and serves no genuine or educational purpose?
To many, this may appear as a rhetorical question, while to others, endless entertainment is something they just can’t get enough of and constantly crave.
Don’t get me wrong. After a long day at the grind, there’s nothing quite like (after taking a walk or hitting the gym, course) settling onto my couch with supper to watch the latest screen offering. While I am careful not to binge watch (as there are usually more important things to do), there are evenings when I will lay back and watch a movie or a few episodes of a favourite series.
But while it is good to have options, have we reached a point where endless selections have simply overwhelmed.? In his 1985 bestseller ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’, Neil Postman uses the example of Aldous Huxley’s 1931 futuristic classic ‘Brave New World’ as social commentary for his own story. Many authors of that age wrote science fiction stories with a frighteningly dystopian bent. This was no less true for George Orwell, whose iconic masterpiece 1984 is seen by many as a warning regarding what our own future could look like. But in Brave New World, instead of Orwell’s oppressive authoritarian regime, people are addicted to amusement and medicate themselves into bliss, therefore, over time, voluntarily giving up their rights.
One of the most famous quotes of all time came from the Roman poet Juvenal in the second century A.D., a time when the Roman Empire — the world around its citizens — was collapsing. Juvenal said, “Two things only the people desire – bread and circuses.”
Another saying is that ‘too much of a good thing can be bad.’ Are we as a society wasting too much of our valuable time staring into screens as our current-day ‘Rome’ burns around us?