Mediums of communication influence the conversations we carry in our society. And I don’t mean that in a superficial way. I mean that the entertainment on television and other media mediums influence the way we speak to other people in a profound sense. We speak as if speaking was a form of entertainment. Or to push this thesis even further, speaking has to imitate the style of entertainment in these popular mediums. It disgusts me when I’m at a social gathering and all my peers are talking about are television shows that I know nothing about. Apart from feeling like conversation with them is pointless, it has become so commonplace that it stirs apathy from within. Apparently people have been pretty excited about a television show called Heroes, which is about ordinary people who are supposed to stop a terrorist attack in New York City by using superhuman abilities they didn’t know they had. What a bunch of post 9/11 wishful thinking!
What is also popular seems to be these medical dramas, like Grey’s Anatomy and Scrubs. These television shows actually shape the way we talk to each other, which is evident in the things we now find funny, and it has the property of converting conversations into entertainment so much so that public discourse on important issues has disappeared. We now learn how to talk about important issues by imbibing the way that JD talks about things in Scrubs. Serious issues have been treated as entertainment for so many decades now, the public is no longer aware of these issues in their original sense, but only as entertainment. I would argue that it’s actually the top sitcoms on NBC that truly shape the way our culture converses perhaps more than the top Box Office films. The sitcoms spoon-feed us with words and ideas and phrases. These television shows are watched frequently, as with the availability of season-long collections, and people are trained daily how to discourse properly in our society.
Why do people like talking with other people? It’s mostly because they can’t stand themselves in the first place. They can’t stand being alone for too long, or they’ll drown hopelessly in their own thoughts. I had to be reminded by my housemates this last year just how much of a hold television still has on millions of people in America. Each day my housemates would sit in front of the television watching reality TV for supermodel wannabes, sacrificing their minds to this soma of the contemporary world. After analyzing their behavior for a year, and keeping aloof, I believe these people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think independently from their culture.
In America no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, their maturity, or their history. People willingly oppress themselves. The title and basic thesis of this entry is from a book by Neil Postman by the same title.