Jollyblogger has a thought-provoking post about the power of entertainment on our lives, especially in our culture. He quotes the often overquoted Neil Postman, of Amusing Ourselves to Death fame. Postman makes some sound points, especially in his book Technopoly.

I was disappointing in his last book before he died, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, where he attempts to come up with a solution to a fragmented world. His solution is for Western society to return to the values of the Enlightenment.

Postman is far too shallow with his solution. Which does not surprise me since he was a diest at best, definitely not a traditional Christian theist. His answers to fragmentation today were nothing more than man living by reason and the intellectual instincts, rather than the easier to follow animal instincts.

I would argue that the reason why we waste so much of our time on television, popular music, popular literature (mere reading is not enough) and all the other noises of our time is that we are bored, and bored silly at that.

I am convinced that while all outward crime and all inward atrophy begins with the pride of individuals; nothing motivates people to act on their sins as much as boredom. I am convinced that we seek so many constant entertaining outlets because we are not comfortable to face who we are, and our own place in the world. Our own pride tells us to ignore our short comings, constant entertainments help our ignorance.

Pascal, a century before the Enlightenment grew its first seed in Napoleon, was convinced that men embraced activity to avoid facing a transcendent God who interacted with them personally.

I like what Jollyblogger says about how our day-dreams tell us who we really are. There have been times in my own life where I have embraced activities to avoid: work, responsibilities or difficult decisions. The insidious nature of modern forms of the visual culture is that it takes us away from things that really do help move us towards changing who we are. What is better? To sit on a couch, alone, watching sports on TV; or to gather some friends and shoot hoops or play touch football for a few hours? Which makes someone more likely to face issues in their life?

For those who are trying to interact with people in ways to change them (teachers, ministers, parents, coaches, etc.) the temptation is massive to just give in and use unthoughtful forms of mass media. It is very hard to use the mass media in constructive ways. The medium does matter. If changing individuals is someone’s call, then whatever noise that can block communication must be dealt with as soon as possible.

Advertisements