The Desperate Cult of Consumption & Distraction
The bullying enforcement of digital viewing is enough to make me switch off, says Rowan Pelling … I’m not sure whether it’s surprising, or predictable, that I married the last man in the entire country who rents an analogue television set. My husband pays £10.80 a month for the privilege of having one of the nation’s most antiquated Panasonics, complete with hefty backside and 26-inch screen. This eccentric practice is not because he is too dim to work out that he’s paid for the television 10 times. We’re waiting for the very last white dot on our TV – UK Telegraph
Dominant Social Theme: Buy more, buy better … but buy.
Yesterday we wrote about the predilection of the Anglo-American power elite to make life as complicated and mysterious as possible. Whether it is automobiles, power plants or even “home entertainment systems” almost nothing is immune from the urge to elaborate, often as expensively as possible (see article excerpt above).
Throughout the West, recently, the transition has been made from analog television to digital, but it was not made in the marketplace; the changes were mandated by law and this in our view is part of a growing trend. More and more, government steps in to reconfigure technology by fiat. One sees this especially in automobiles, which are regulated now from top to bottom. The pattern is always the same: Technology starts out in the private sector but ends up as a public good with all the regulation that entails.
But we have noticed another trend as well, a kind of sub-dominant social theme in our view that has to do with the celebration of technology for its own sake. As Western societies evolve toward bankruptcy; as the ruin, generally, of central banking and fiat money reduce middle classes to rubble, the mainstream media’s coverage of technology has reached a kind of crescendo. It seems axiomatic, like some sort of economic rule: The worse things are, the more “technology” is celebrated.
One can see this phenomenon most clearly on Google, in the news section, where not a day goes by without elaborate comparisons of iPhone and Android communication devices. Microsoft’s new releases are still lovingly dissected (though Microsoft is not what it once was). There are seemingly more stories about Steve Jobs than Ben Bernanke (a lot more). Hundreds of articles regularly debate the various advantages of one “app” over another. The sales figures of iPad 2 are the subject of breathless speculation, no less than Steve Jobs health.
It is a kind of celebration of trivia that allows the mainstream media to provide a simulacrum of what news is supposed to be. The real issues of the day are downplayed of course, but one can find out anything one wants to know about how to switch from Android to iPad and back again; how iPad2 was hacked remotely, whether or not Microsoft is committed to Zune; four ways IE9 lets you surf safer; how Mozilla Firefox4 stacks up against other browsers, etc.
Japan’s beleaguered Fukushima nuclear power plant has apparently given up the ghost. Radiation is spouting in a “plume” from the top of at least one of the reactors. The multiple Japanese disasters are endangering a major expansion of nuclear power. According to Business Standard, It is projected that by 2020, 73 GW of additional capacity will come on stream and by 2030 there may be nearly 600 GW of nuclear power capacity world-wide. China and India alone plan an additional 50 power plants.
You won’t read about this sort of thing on Google News however; nor anywhere in the mainstream media – or not before Fukushima went up in flames. The larger issues of the day are seemingly discussed only in the breach. Pre-Internet, there was considerable controversy over the kind of nuclear designs that are found at Fukushima, but we are only finding this out now.
It has been ever thus. Western mainstream media is a kind of prestidigitation, a magic show. One is always looking under the wrong shell. Throughout the 20th century, sports writing provided a reliable distraction; endless articles debated the merits of teams and individual players in a variety of games (and in the Internet the coverage, if anything, has expanded). The US especially, has elevated sports coverage to an art form, with the Superbowl spectacle rivaling anything that “hard news” has to offer and likely surpassing it.
But there is no doubt that technology is catching up to sports-writing when it comes to offering meaningless comparisons of obscure electronic facilities that will not even be remembered in a few years time. There is nothing more disposable than the new communications technology, nor anything quite so celebrated by the mainstream. Whether or not anyone actually reads these stories is an open question; they surely provide a distraction.
The Internet is certainly a mixed blessing (what isn’t in this life?). It is a distaction machine. But it is much more. From the Internet we learn about the possibilities of zero-point energy, about cancer-curing Rife machines, about the electrical universe itself. We learn that civilization may extend back tens of thousands of years and that it is likely there are numerous ancient cities hidden underwater waiting to be excavated. We learn, too, that ancient technologies may have been as powerful as modern ones and that the ancients may even have experienced space travel.
Some of the information on the Internet is viable; some of it is speculative; some of it is incorrect. But unlike in the 20th century, “forbidden’ information is actually available. Internet communication hasn’t just informed us about alternative technologies or ancient archeology; it’s also helped us understand our governments and the shadowy elites standing behind them. It is the Internet that has allowed the exploration of the world’s disastrous central banking economy and exposed the elite’s plans for a new world order.
It is much more difficult to hide relevant information in the 21st than in the 20th century. That doesn’t mean the mainstream media won’t try – and try it does with ever-increasing fervor. The cult of communication technology coverage is just one example. “Gossip” and “entertainment” coverage are at an all-time high, as well, thanks to the Internet, with numerous sites such as TMZ providing 24-hour-a-day reporting on the various lifestyle developments of stars and starlets alike.
Nonetheless much has changed. Those who wish to be seriously informed about their world have the opportunity to do so. The Japanese nuclear disaster now unfolding is just one example of how the Internet allows for serious and in-depth coverage of issues that would not have been explored with the same level of detail (or criticism) as in the 20th century, or at least not with such rapidity. Yes, there is more “fluff” on the Internet than ever before; but for those who wish to look beyond the surface insignificance; there is plenty of opportunity to do so. That’s a big change.