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Eternal, Omnipresent Circus
December 4, 2014
by William P. Meyers

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Bread and Circuses is a phrase echoing from ancient Rome, particularly when it made the transition from being a Republic (not a Democracy) to a monarchy, headed by an Emperor.

People like entertainment; I like entertainment. I like TV, or as it is now called, video. I like music.

But I don't like what I see going on in the world today: a 24-hour per day, ever-present circus.

I don't deny the Internet has its good side. But I see its education and communication benefits being more than offset by its dulling of human intelligence, spirit, and real-world accomplishment.

The Internet is the Imperial Crown of the telecommunications system. Once upon a time for entertainment there was just live entertainment and print. Then came phonographs, movies and radio. Of course some people did manage to listen to music much of the time, but the selection was limited. Music was often something done while doing something else, like working.

Television was a big innovation that became popular in the U.S. in the 1950's. But the video broadcast quality was typically poor and in most places there were only 3 channels available. As a result people tended to watch by demographic time slot, except during "prime time" in the evenings, when the whole family might watch a major television drama or comedy.

Television worried people. If getting children to do homework before television was a struggle, for many families it was nearly impossible during the television era. People of all ages glued themselves to the (picture) tube if they could, hence the term boob tube. Television became the baby sitter, depriving infants and children of real-world interaction.

Television could bring you the news, but not in as much depth as a good newspaper. What it did for many was show them ways of life outside their own. Kids in unhappy families watched happy TV families and hoped to become a different kind of person. Comedians made fun of stupidity. Shows during the 1960's like The Smothers Brothers and The Monkees arguably changed the culture (in my mind for the better).

But live entertainment began to die. The economics had changed. Why get up off a sofa and pay to watch a play when Bonanza would be on the TV?

Telephone calls were an interruption for many people. Those who liked to talk could stay in what seemed like pretty constant gossip alert, as long as they stayed near their land line. Then came cell phones, and it was game over for the gossips who could afford them. Yes, there was a period of about 10 years when cell phones were too expensive for most people.

Finally the new millennia dawned with widespread use of Internet, including eventual availability on smartphones. Which meant to be away from it you had to get sufficiently far from a cell phone tower.

The circus stays with many people all the time. Like to gossip? You can have Facebook or Twitter or dozens of other services wake you up at night with the latest lies and innuendoes.

Like pornography? Always there. Like right wing politics, or left wing politics? Always there. Like games? Always there. Like jihad or some kind of religious dogma? Always there. The mind-rot called spectator Sports? Always there.

Many people are so addicted to the circus that they can hardly work. Anecdotes abound about young job applicants who try to take cell phone calls during interviews. People crash into obstacles because they are watching a smartphone screen instead of their surroundings.

And inefficiency at many job sites is reaching new heights as people use the Internet to do just about anything but work, unless a supervisor is peering over their shoulders.

Sure, you can sign up for free online courses and tutorials, and everyone has Wikipedia at their fingertips, whether they need a quick lesson in quantum physics or don't want to appear to be ignorant about the latest pop music star.

But people are avoiding reality (the one with real weather and obstacles and all that) to an extent not seen since the Dark Ages in Europe. Which means what little they know about reality is at best second-hand, is usually distorted, and is often downright false.

Perhaps that is why the most popular TV show in America is The Walking Dead. On the one hand it is probably the most dumb ass, boring show since Leave It To Beaver. On the other hand on some subconscious level a lot of people would prefer to be in a world without smartphones.

Remember, it isn't using the Internet, it is what you use the Internet for (and how much) that determines what kind of person you will become over time. The same is true about reality. It is big, wide, and complicated. Your choices determine your outcome.

Agree? Disagree? You can comment on this post at Natural Liberation Blog at blogspot.com

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