Finally I could have a break from the hectic schedule at the beginning of 2012.
This afternoon I was on the train back home from work. I usually read with my Kindle the whole time on the train. But today I was a bit exhausted of focusing on every word in the line of Schopenhauer all the time since sometimes it could be quite distracting on the train with the noise from other people and the train itself. So I stopped reading and started to lose myself in the universe of musing. As I unconsciously gazed around, I quickly discovered something way more interesting and started to observe people’s behavior in the train. It was a one-hour-trip, and guess what most of people were doing nowadays in the train?
8 out of 10 people (of all ages) were busy bowing down to the extreme and staring at their tiny little phones as if that 3~4 inch screen of magic gadget has inexplicable magnetic field to drag their eyes closer, closer, and closer…
In fact, I recall when I was having lunch today with my colleagues they were exactly doing the same thing, leaving me alone eating my sandwich “ordinarily and in a fully committed manner”.
Whatever they stared at, it is absolutely irrelevant, forgettable, and worthless.
I am not here lamenting about the increasing distance among people nowadays and ranting on the abuse of virtual device for it. That’s just cliche. What I really thought sad was the fact that people nowadays were wholeheartedly swamped by the wasteful and absolutely unnecessary entertaining information all their spare time (esp the younger generation).
It’s simply amazing to see how fast the entertaining business self-magnifies in our civilization in the past few decades:
20 years ago the presence of TV, which was already considered the then greatest threat to the intellectual enlightenment of the society, only “compelled” people with enormous retarded pictorial information when they were at home. I suppose most people could still have their own time while away from home. 10 years ago there was the massive proliferation of internet, which overtook TV as the major source of entertainment in a blitz manner. The amount of wasteful and irrelevant tabloid gossips simply jumped more than tenfold of that from the TV. I guess humans must have sickly obsession for the garbage information intake. Since the era of internet more and more people have spent more and more time in front of their computers, even at work (everyday works with computers nowadays and everyone checks random stuff that you would forget one second after at work on the internet for nothing other than meaningless entertainment/time-killing?).
Nowadays, as the zeitgeist represents: the plague of smart phones all over the world (even in places like Africa). The ultimate objective of the entertaining business has finally achieved (next step is… the dream?). People are finally overwhelmed with unnecessary overloading information with their entertaining gadgets ALL THE TIME. (The screen, however, does get smaller and smaller…)
Of course I believe everyone’s excuse for having a smart phone (excluding those hipsters!) is to use it as a productivity boost for our everyday life. I, myself, have a smart phone as well for this purpose. But how many really makes their life more productive with such device? And how many hours have you killed straight with your smart phone at the same time?
I really have to give credits to the development of the entertaining business. It abuses our vulnerable psychological flaws to the fullest. The entertaining technology, as I categorize it (TV, video game, internet, smartphone etc.), most of the time just serve the purpose to trap us with higher and higher level of addiction to the business itself without realizing it. This entangles us mortals forever in the wonderland of mediocrity. With dull, repetitious, and mechanic office work that most people spend most of their day time, we are already being retarded in our intelligent potentials. And this is not enough. With the ultimate entertaining technologies we are even stripped off the very last remaining moment of being ourselves. When could we ever have the time to rejoice the enrichment of solitude, reading, or even contemplation? Alas, but what we have been stripped off from this hypnosis are exactly what has prompted the advancement of our civilization all along.
People already lost the prudence for rational reasoning, logic. It is already getting increasingly difficult to educate the public of something that is a little bit beyond the immediate appearance of the objects. Social Media, Art, Music, Literature, Religion, and especially Politics, are appealing for those who knows the tricks of charlatans: psychology and signaling. Quoted from Schopenhauer, who still claimed at that time humans would respond to motives rather than causes (inorganic) and stimuli (plant and animal), the difference being humans use reasoning to use “will” to respond beyond the immediate intuitive response to the physical cognition (emotions being a high level of stimuli in such taxonomy). I dare to paraphrase this assertion to be more applicable for the brave new world: people are repressed with their reasoning capabilities submerging in the ocean of information solely for the purpose of entertainment. Hence human “will” merely degrades itself into a superficial reflection of immediate intuitive (like the interface nowadays: intuitive) and emotional response of the surface of the consequence, for we barely have the precious time and virtue for intellectual cognition now.
In this endless ouroboros, we do not grow wiser nor our civilization advances much further other than in the entertaining business. Immediately it reminds me of Neil Postman and his famous claim: “Amusing Ourselves to Death“…
Most people just never get it.