Entertainment options are everywhere. They're on the Internet, TV, your car, phone, local shopping mall, etc. With the global recession (always the first thing to blame) and what seems like the drudgery of school, work or modern life itself, people are looking for opportunities to "have fun" more than ever.
All of this comes at a terrible cost. Reality.
How many times have you, dear reader, played a video game over the past week? How many times have you blasted your stereo so you feel enveloped by the loudness and "high" of the music? More importantly, answer me this: Is there anything else interesting or exciting going on in your life besides school, work and "entertainment"?
Too often, I'm finding the answer to be "not much."
While there are people dying in third-world countries due to poverty/war, we're all having fun in the dance club. While the future of our country hinges on decisions made by the government that supposedly represents us, the people, we're all too busy surfing the Web.
Most modern technology is less of an escape from our problems, but more a creator of those problems. "I just want to escape" is the common cry from everyone, ever. Escape from what? "From the drudgery of life," you say. The world wouldn't be so boring if you'd stop posting stupid memes on Tumblr. Go outside, get some fresh air, you'll have an adventure more exciting than anything you'll see on TV this week. Man, I sound like an old geezer.
Now, I know this isn't all your fault. We've been duped into thinking that the hyperconservatives of the world aren't controlling people through the use of electronic gadgets and the veneer of glamour (how many laptop commercials can I name that feature disturbing amounts of perfect-looking men and women?)
But at some point you realize that the very same people who are up in arms about gun control, women's rights and the "liberal" media are the people who are CEOs of companies like GE, News Corp., Regal Entertainment. In other words, all companies that have a major stake in selling information/media to the masses.
Most liberals don't realize this. They think the Internet, in particular, will allow society to free itself from "old system(s)" of media and "cultural gatekeeping" and sponsor progress in democracy and quality of information. Hence social media, message boards, encyclopedias that anyone can edit, and, uh, porn.
The Internet hasn't contributed to democracy; it's become the system of those who want people to remain complacent in their daily lives.
Every time you go to watch a YouTube video, there's an advertiser who is making money off it. These same advertisers are high up in the corporate world sending lobbyists to Washington in order to loosen restrictions on technology companies so that the companies can expand their reach and make more money by having you click on a YouTube video.
Every time you update your status on Facebook/Twitter, IT firms are collecting data on who you are, where you go, what you're doing (hello, Axciom.com).
Most of all, when you read news stories on the Web, you're diluting what you're really looking at and making it only a representative experience. A fake experience.
Of course, everything in moderation. I think it's too much to ask if we all just dropped our iPhones and played in the streets. We'll always have art/entertainment to serve our human hunger for something "other" or fantastical.
But in 2013, it has gone too far. Instead of reading/hearing about things going on around us, we can, and should, start living them.
Ryan Hoffman is currently a part-time student at Boise State University studying Communications with a Media Production Emphasis.