I have this vivid memory stuck in my mind. It’s of a flight I took to Las Vegas several years ago to work in a trade show. I looked across the aisle, where a young woman was reading a magazine. The column she read was entitled, in a large fiery font, Hollywood Hot! I remember thinking to myself Who cares? This woman doesn’t know any of these people she seems so interested in. None of them will do anything of lasting importance. They’re only actors, singers, maybe a producer. As much as I enjoy a good movie from time to time, I can’t imagine immersing my life into those of the actors on the screen.
But this is the society we’ve become. The headlines tell us of the latest celebrity scandal, box office profits, the winner of a reality show. While the world rages around us, we are focused on entertainment, sports, even a continuing feed of amateur videos on facebook, YouTube, and twitter.
We are surrounded by so much senseless noise that it should come as no surprise that our college students can’t even find Montana on a map.
I’m not the first to openly complain about our addiction to entertainment. Surely there are thousands of articles that go into greater detail. But as one who sees the crumbling of our American society as a foregone conclusion, this death by entertainment plays a crucial role.
I’ve always held out that America’s downfall will not come at the hand of a foreign enemy. There will be no nuclear war. No EMP. No new plague. Our destruction will be one of suicide. Not purposely. More like that of a glutton. We’ll continue to feed ourselves an over-abundance of electronic stimulation until our thought ability simply shuts down on a massive scale. Truly, it is already taking place.
I predict that Americans will become poor, not in material possesions, but in ideas. In thought. In any ability to reason. Perhaps the zombie apocalypse is not so far from reality. Except that the drooling hoards of mindless corpses won’t emerge from the grave. They’ll simply rise from the couches.
This death by entertainment is not a new theme among dystopian writers. For good reason. There is no better way to enslave an entire society than to provide them with a steady stream of stimulation. Leave them no time to reason and think, and they’ll have no desire to change their circumstance. The dystopian writer, in order to compress the time scale, may use his fictional government to provide the stimulus. In reality, there is no need. While it has taken over one hundred years, I sense that we are at the tipping point. The couch zombies outnumber the thinkers.
And, like a true horror flick, the living among us must choose. We can rage against the night. Or we can succumb to the darkness and join our fellow Americans in blissful ignorance. At least zombies feel no pain. These are the days in which we live. The darkness is approaching. What will you choose?