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the apathy generator

Written by Sam Duregger : May 1, 2008

apathy generatorI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, and again, and again… A major factor in encouraging the apathy in American Political, Religious, Environmental, and Social arenas is the television. A major factor in the decline of family interaction, community involvement, and bonding of friendships, is the television. A major factor in the acceleration of America’s debt problem, economic hardship, and consummate consumption… is the television.

It is not the television itself, but some (or most) of the programs that broadcast into our homes through this device. It is not the television itself that leads to apathetic lifestyles but the addiction to the ritualistic watching of programs by our population. It is not the television itself that leads to the over consumption that drives competition with the Jones’, but the advertisements and lifestyles of those that we watch and emulate.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no Jonathan Green, I watch television now and then, (though for 3 years during Graduate School my television was neatly tucked away in my closet… mainly so I could tell people years later this very fact.) But seriously… I laugh when Michael Scott embarrasses himself, I tense up when a giant black cloud engulfs those bad men on that one island that everyone is lost on, and I cry when Ty introduces a family to their new home… but it is not something that is a regular part of my day, it is not something I schedule my life around nor do I set my DVR more religiously than my alarm clock. I bring this up because I am frustrated… I’m disappointed at the crass jokes and sex driven themes in many of the programs, I’m distracted by the rampant consumerism forced upon us in the endless minutes of advertisements, I’m irritated that roommates would rather come home and turn on the television than show any semblance of interest in each other’s day.

This addiction to television is a contributing factor to the demoralizing apathy found in many Americans. Seen in the child who watches, on average, 4.5 hours of television a day; the adult who diligently watches a show each evening of the week, with football on Saturday and Sunday; the ability of children to identify over 500 logos but have trouble learning the history of our great nation. The capacity of many who can recount the latest Lost episode (in relation to the previous 3 seasons), the tangled web of relationships in Grey’s Anatomy, or the latest sex-capade on The Bachelor… but who are ignorant to the issues facing the world today (Aids Epidemic, Global Hunger, Environmental Issues, War on Terror, Oil Dependency, et cetera). It is endemic to our native land and, if we aren’t careful, it will become an epidemic on foreign soil. The U.S. is already seen as a gluttonous hog in the farrowing house, and many will continue to be raised in jealous admiration of our lifestyles… or rather the lifestyles portrayed on television.

Unfortunately the shows we watch are also being zipped across the globe via satellite and broadband Internet to those with little direct knowledge of our lifestyle. The image being portrayed in commercials and sitcoms are stereotypes upon which the outside world sees as a reality. And in this misunderstanding they begin to compare their lives to ours, which fuels envy, hate and judgment. The ironic thing is that we also compare and envy, judge and hate. The same motivations drive us all into delusional lives where hopes and dreams for our community, morph into hopes and dreams for our own self. Individualistic attitudes, getting what I deserve, working for my benefit: instead of the community rule of working for the benefit of others, getting them what they deserve, and magnanimous attitudes upholding the rights of others. The scare of an epidemic is real, but the vaccine is simple… though complicated to propagate.

It starts with you, in your home, and in your mind. If many would just unplug from entertainment for a second and delve into some of the issues of the day they would see the solutions are staring them in their faces. We have the technology to reduce the impact of humans on this earth by 90%. We have the money to feed the starving, give water to the thirsty, and give basic health care to millions. We have the influence in America to take a stand and change the direction of the world! But many of us don’t realize this… and sit staring at somebody else’s life (fictional or not), envying their success, wishing our life was like theirs, but yet doing nothing to change our own situation… there is a remedy, it is within grasp and accessible with your thumb.

Unfortunately, television is the numbing agent to the suicide machine we are living in; so keep flipping those channels and find something good, because you deserve great programming as the soundtrack to our demise.

photo by jek in the box

Author Bio:: Sam Duregger is constantly wading through the gray areas of life, looking for the crayons, with which to scribble the beauty of God’s love.

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