Many are the days that I ponder the direction of society in general.  Most often I feel that most of our American society is taking a path to sure degradation with what seems as the loss of the ability to communicate correctly and effectively.  This slide down the slope of eloquence can be attributed to a multitude of factors ranging from social class, race, or geographic location.  Within these factors there rests an immense range of possibilities with income, access to decent education and to good libraries, peers of good influence, etc., all playing their part in this drama.  However, these attributes, as shown most recently by Dick Cheney’s vulgarity on our country’s Senate floor, span throughout all classes; low, middle, or high, assuming Mr. Cheney is of high class because of his stature and his amassed fortune.  With so many factors at play, why is our society being “dumbed down?”

One of my own opinions concerning this loss of eloquence is the direct effect our favored forms of entertainment have on the younger generation.  This is no new notion, of course.  Elvis was deemed the harbinger of Satan, as were the Beatles, Black Sabbbath, Slayer, and, more recently, Marilyn Manson.  It is not these groups themselves that I seek to blame.  Not in the least.  To me, the majority of our young population is much more influenced by corporate puppets of entertainment, such as Britney Spears, shock reality programming, dating shows, MTV, and even Fox News.  I say “even” because a news source usually would not fit into such entertainment categories, but with such biased reporting and their ratings-hungry wolves, Fox qualifies as entertainment, not news.  These sources of entertainment encourage idiocy and the eradication of critical thought all the while making sure that what is “cool” is imperative to how we should live with any measure of happiness.  Every time my daughter watches videos on VH1, I see a virtual shooting gallery of ignorant people pawning their ignorant products off on us, the suckered viewer.  Their language, their movements, their faces all speak with vile mouths and we sit idly by, shrugging the fads off, but there are startling statistics that must be looked at.

A National Endowment for the Arts study shows that, “The decline was especially great among the youngest people surveyed, ages 18 to 24. Only 43 percent had read any literature in 2002, down from 53 percent in 1992.” In addition, television, movies, and the Internet are cited as likely culprits of our nation’s growing illiteracy.  Dana Gioia, NEA chairman, says, “I think what we’re seeing is an enormous cultural shift from print media to electronic media, and the unintended consequences of that shift.” What we’re left with, then, is a heap of young people with a deteriorated attention span simply because electronic forms of entertainment always give up the nut without ever hiding it, s to speak.  Viewers of television, especially the younger, more hip channels, race through their programming so as to not lose their viewers when they’re given a minute to breathe.  During commercial breaks, the speed is maintained, perhaps even elevated, so we can see what we’re missing in our lives.  It is a terrible thing that these clips do not show the gentle, slow turning of a paper page.

Adults are not free from this grip, either.  The same study shows, “Only 47 percent of American adults read “literature” (poems, plays, narrative fiction) in 2002, a drop of 7 points from a decade earlier. Those reading any book at all in 2002 fell to 57 percent, down from 61 percent.” Are our lives this full of useless, soulless nothingness?  I am not asserting that I have been able to read any more than anyone else in the last decade of my life.  Indeed, I’ve noticed a great swing from being able to hold my own peace and read whenever I wanted to.  Now, things are not as such.  Whether my reasons are my sometimes-loud children, my gregarious wife, the lure to see what is on the next channel, or the magnetic pull of the void we all know as the electronic black hole, the Internet, I manage to find ways to avoid reading.  I know that when I raise my voice to my nine year-old daughter to get her to pick up a book, I am essentially yelling at myself for the same violation.  If I am to set the example, I’d better follow through.  Even by writing this entry, I am making some effort to stay away from my current book, which I do hope to pick up sometime this evening, although I’m finding it a bit too warm and humid to lay and read. 

See?  There I go again.

Please refer to the link below, as this was the source for my post.