This is one
of the most pertinent and disturbing trends in American culture
today. The apathy, disinterest, and ineptitude of growing numbers
of americans middle aged and younger. This demographic more and
more has become accustomed to a blasé attitude towards
everything but one's own well being. Ridiculously people seek
this well being through the acquisition of money and material
possessions, a culture of consumerism. How this has come to pass
is multi-faceted and unfathomably more complex than I can understand
or describe, but I can't help but think it has much to do with
the ever-growing dearth of intellectual pursuit for its own sake
and one's own betterment, as well as the ridiculous short-sightedness
The decadence of the
baby-boomer generation and the astronomical rise of television
and global media are huge parts of this. The combination of the
average number of hours of television watched, the number of advertisements,
the evolved nature of advertising, the contemporary popular media
and twenty-four hour “news” networks and the despicable
quality of said media have all combined to shorten the American
attention span to a few nanoseconds.
Another major contributor
to the problem is the atrocious condition of American public schooling.
Teachers are woefully underpaid and schools similarly under-funded,
yet we continue to wonder why students test so poorly, even in
many of the upper-class districts. Children need to be taught
to think for themselves from an earlier age, and not to memorize
and regurgitate. These ideas are of course nothing new, but certainly
worth repeating since nothing’s changed.
Not to mention
the condition of the government and the two party system. Of course
people are going to feel they can’t individually make a
difference when the Electoral College voting system is in place
and close calls are decided by the Supreme Court. Government secrecy
is at an all-time high when transparency is what is most needed.
We are given bits of twisted information as well as blatant disinformation
with which to form our opinions, and even when obvious lies are
exposed to open air no one of power is ever held accountable.
There is either a media scapegoat or no one is blamed at all and
the problem is washed away in the surge of media ‘hot-topic-pursuit’.
No American concerned with the welfare of the country should ever
give a fuck about Scott Peterson or any runaway bride or other
bullshit ‘news’ like that. That crap confuses the
most important issues that wear on the American conscience like
people, lots of them, dying everyday in Iraq, still! Or now in
New Orleans, where many lives could have been saved were it not
for a lack of interest by the powers that be in Washington and
in NO, LA. Even in cases where a news organization is actually
interested in asking hard questions and pursuing an issue to the
end, they are most often brushed aside as ‘un-American’,
‘conspiracy theorists’, or they give up on their own
volition when threatened with severely limited access. Most often
they are never even heard at all. Just think about how many times
you’ve read terrible news somewhere that was open-ended,
unresolved. How long did you keep tabs on the story after it left
the front pages on the papers, magazines, and websites? Do you
know how it was resolved? Or does it matter? Interesting to me
how quickly the media stopped talking about those miners after
we found out they were almost all dead. Not much of a story when
everyone dies, so we move on.
The short attention span, the clamp on pertinent information,
the resurgence of purported moral and ethical content decisions
based on “decency” standards, the lack of all accountability
and justice for those who have it coming most - it all points
to a fast, forgettable, and irreversibly damaging 2006.