One of the more important changes brought to us via the 20th century has to do with media. There were at least 4 revolutions in media in that time period – movies, radio, tv and internet. And each changed the way in which we live.
How did this change work? Well, first of all, using media became a more important part of our daily schedule. One commentator wrote that work became a lot easier for many people in the 20th century — giving them more leisure time. And what did they do with it? They plopped down in front of the TV.
But that is not the only thing that changed. We used media for a reason. We went to the movies — and go to the movies — for a reason. Ditto for radio, TV and now internet. What is that reason? It is not primarily to get informed. Pity the poor soul who gathers his information by watching movies. It is for entertainment. It is fun and fun of a particular sort. The movies, radio and TV all allow you to passively enjoy partaking in an alternative reality. At no risk and with minimal effort, you can be transported, as if through a portal, to some other dimension of space and time. And you found amazing stuff there — as well as amazing people. Media has been an incredible vehicle for escape.
And if we think about connectivity in this year, we have to admit that we need our escapes. We need the thrill of getting away from it all, if even for a short period of time. It is a crutch.
The problem is that as escape gets easier, we can easily over indulge. We begin to think that escaping reality adds value to reality. Does it? Does entertainment produce value?
Well, Csikszentmilayi argued that it does. It reduces psychic entropy. It makes us more calm. The problem is that it accomplishes this by making us more passive as well. This goes along with a strengthened intuitive sense that we understand things that we do not. In other words, we can make ourselves less intelligent.
How to get beyond this? That is coming up. Stay tuned!