I turned on a TV and found the local public station in pledge-drive mode. For some time now, they’ve ditched the way they used to do this, which was putting on some kind of extra bonus special programming to attract viewers and request support while they had, they hoped, a higher viewer count than usual. Instead, now, they do this extended run of holding the usual programming hostage, replacing it with almost comically bad trash, as if to say “right, we won’t let you see Nova and Frontline and the rest of the good stuff until you cough up some cash!”.
One of these things was on, one particular type of this replacement programming they do where some sort of pseudo-educational sales pitch kind of presentations features some kind of “life coach” self-improvement guru characters gives an endless lecture of interminable boredom. I didn’t stay around for that, but at the moment, the woman speaking to the gathered audience was talking about people having “a senior moment” of some mental lapse or another. The point she was making in the middle of whatever it was she was doing was that people might sometimes think of themselves as “having a senior moment” when, really, what was happening was that they’re simply overloaded, their attention scattered by a barrage of often trivial distractions.
Take a look at a sampling of some of the current “Latest News” headlines churned out by one of the major news wire services that supply news to so much of the American news media, including your local newspaper:
Poodle dressed as schoolgirl walks upright in China
Kendra Wilkinson, Hank Baskett attend premiere as a couple
Shia LaBeouf, Mia Goth spark engagement rumors
World Sleep Day brings attention to sleeping disorders
Obama reads “Mean Tweets” on Jimmy Kimmel
Kathy Griffin quits ‘Fashion Police,’ declares ‘my style does not fit’
Bruce Jenner docuseries on hold over production concerns
On and on it goes. There are millions of them like that it seems. Keep everybody buried in infotainment junk. Neil Postman’s book Amusing Ourselves To Death is more relevant than ever, which is especially interesting considering how things have changed, with a massive increase in the things he was writing about a few decades ago, in a time before all the digital communications diversions and distractions including people becoming “smart” phone zombies.
Buried among all the garbage “top stories” from UPI was this gem of an example of the kinds of delusions pumped out as “energy news” directed at the American public- Exxon leads charge to change U.S. energy policies – UPI.com.
This, sadly, represents typical “news” coverage that people in the United States are subjected to as “energy news”. It’s not hyperbole to suggest that this kind of stuff might reasonably be regarded as tragic.
I don’t choose that word casually.
If you have not already paused and gone to read the last link, it’s simple enough to summarize, and really it’s a waste of time, although very short. Simply put, it’s yet another example of “news” where somebody presented as an expert authority on the subject makes declarations about the notions of a US energy boom, supposed newfound energy independence, about new miracle wonders of America’s energy abundance, that are, as people should already be well aware, in complete conflict with reality. This kind of thing is not unusual, it has become the normal public narrative meme, and people not really paying attention to people who know what they’re talking about, and are honest about the subject, just swallow it all as fact, with all the trouble that causes following along.
It’s a similar kind of problem in other vitally important matters. In another article posted online by one of the people actually doing the job of honest and informative journalism, the state of affairs in the American public notions and narratives of relationships and events across the globe were summed up very well in the statement: “Americans’ views of foreign affairs are almost exactly the opposite of reality“.
Meanwhile, the avoidance and puppetry take on other forms…
What we get for news now, and have for years, here in the US “news media”, is this, that, and everything popping up as a new “crisis”, one after another, some of them apparently a permanent state, seemingly regardless of the meaning of the word, with many things hyped up as a crisis, and with so many of these supposed crises being not a temporary state of some peak of urgency and emergency, but some sort of perpetual permanent thing. Even that gets weird, as one excited “crisis” seems to not actually fade or be resolved, but the circus of the public realm just shifts on to some new crisis.
We end up with this bizarre state of public consciousness (if that’s really the right word) where one part of it is a seemingly permanent state of agitated anxiety and panic, or at least the presentation of that as how you should be regarding a situation. Another aspect is a incredibly strange atmosphere of all kinds of trivia and/or nonsense elevated constantly to a level of major drama that is supposed to grip everyone.
All of this is problematic when we’re in an era and place where news, entertainment, advertising, and raw propaganda are tangled together in increasingly indistinguishable tangled messes.
Trivial items or even complete fiction and nonsense grip people’s attention, and actual serious, urgent, vitally important problems get ignored, or maybe given a cursory shallow glance and dismissed and forgotten in a “whatever” wave of the hand and roll of eyes by people numbed by perpetual bombardment of one “crisis!” drama after another, like some running real world demonstration of the moral of the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
What’s really awful is watching the way people seem so easily manipulated, played like a two dollar banjo, directed and diverted continually from one “crisis” to the next, one “controversy” to the next”, on and on. This might already be arguably described as tragic, yes, genuinely tragic, and could get much worse if people don’t stop playing the fool to this nonsense.