Amusing Ourselves into Sociopathy?

epiminondas writes:

Theodore Dalrymple explores the curse of modern television:

“In my opinion, televisual entertainment is by far the most important cause of boredom in the world, and since the attempt to relieve boredom is a much underestimated cause of social pathology of all kinds, television is ultimately responsible for the squalor in the midst of wealth that is so remarkable a feature of our modern existence.”

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7 Responses to Amusing Ourselves into Sociopathy?

  1. I love Dalrymple, but I disagree with him here. I’m one of those who thinks TV has some of the best visual storytelling around, shows like “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Wire,” “Arrested Development,” “Veronica Mars,” etc. I could list two dozen more easily. The shows are quite a bit more sophisticated than the ones Dalrymple watched forty years ago.


  2. epiminondas says:

    I often ask myself if we would be better off without television. The change would be profound. Would we?


  3. You could probably say the same thing about the intrusion of accurate clocks into our lives that Dalrymple says about TV. The massive intrusion of clocks into human lives occurred at about the same time as the triumph of the railroads, which would have been around the 1850s. Before that, I think that people measured time only in the huge increments marked by dawn, noon and evening. The human mind probably expected and received far fewer events. Is the demand for an ever increasing tide of events and drama a negative? Probably negative and positive from a moral sense. That demand, however, strikes me as inevitable.


  4. fenster says:

    I also love Dalrymple, or rather I mostly enjoy reading him, in the same way I used to enjoy watching his mentor Malcolm Muggeridge on the old Jack Paar Show. They are both awfully good at getting worked up into a snit.

    That too much TV may be detrimental to children is not really news. Spinning that insight into an all-purpose demonic tale of the “lying, insincere, obsequious, unscrupulous, fickle, exploitative, shallow, cynical, untrustworthy, treacherous, dishonest, mercenary, low, and untruthful” is a nice piece of rhetoric but not too much more than that.

    Give me The Wire any day.


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