Just for fun, let’s fast forward to 2015. Ask: What’s the modern-day “opiate of the masses”? Here’s a clue:
These American University students can’t name a single person currently serving in the U.S. Senate. They have no idea how many senators each state has. “I’m not big into the whole America thing,” says one rocket scientist. But they can all correctly identify the hit tune from Diseny’s Frozen (Let It Go).
At least we know what matters.
Now. Whaddya want to bet every single one of these students has a “smart phone”? Facebook account? Twitter feed? Instagram? Is buried in his/her mobile device morning, noon, and night? Knows and has downloaded the latest and greatest app a gazillion times. And probably can’t name their representatives at any level.
Before you cluck your tongue too loudly at these young political geniuses, realize: This isn’t limited to college campuses.
Think it a little further. If you could, how would you lull Americans to sleep, make sure they’re completely detached from the real world, not tracking a thing that’s going on outside their immediate lives or meaningfully engaged in the public square? I know what I’d do. I’d pass out iphones like cotton candy at the county fair. (Remember the “Obama phone”?)
Think it a little further again. Everyone would have their very own mobile device. Be joined at the hip with it. Worship it. Be convinced they can’t live, function or think without it. I’d create and cultivate device-dependency like corn in Iowa. That way government can do just about anything and everything and get away with it – because We The People are too buried in the latest app to pay attention. Or care. Or even notice. Let alone show up at the polls or return a ballot.
So, what’s “opiate of the masses” of the 21st century? Technology. Social media. Apps. Iphones. Anything to distract the Average Joe and Josephine from what’s going on at city hall, the state capitol, courthouse, or Washington, D.C. Addict society to gadgets, gizmos and apps. Then count the snores.
Are technology and social media helpful, useful, and efficient? A time and effort saver? Help you get “more bang for your buck”? Stay connected and current? Yep. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about being:
- More connected to your mobile device than to other human beings.
- More passionate about the latest app than a lawless president or the next election.
- More plugged in to an electronic gadget than to real people – or real issues.
- Spending more time on Whatsapp, Instagram or Flipboard than reading a ballot. Or a book. (Remember those?)
It may take a little more time to connect/communicate without the omnipresent mobile device doo-dad. You may even have to expend some actual effort. But who wants to have dinner with SoundCloud or Flixster? I’d rather engage a real, live person. Note: I’ve been known to grab offending *mobile devices* and hold them for ransom until the check arrives. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Wait. It gets worse.
Remember that game we used to play called “conversation”? Dinosaurs of the world will recall that one. We used to play this game before the advent of smart phones, texting, tweeting, apps and status updates. Everyone survived. It was kind of fun. It’s also becoming a lost art. I blame social media and mobile device doo-dads. Mostly because it’s convenient.
I know, I know. Your sweet li’l device makes your life so much easier. More efficient. Faster. And faster and faster and faster and… Well, whoop-de-do. Because where exactly is all that frantic, frenetic texting, running, rushing, 24/7-ing, and nano-seconding getting you?
I know, I know again. I’m a dinosaur. Know what? I don’t care. In fact, I kinda like being a brontosaurus. Unchained. Independent. And at least semi-alert (after chocolate). I don’t have to worry about a third party accessing my personal info. Or tracking my every move and contact. Or losing my mind if I lose my mobile doo-dad. Or doing the opiate of the masses thing morning, noon, and night.
I’m just funny that way.
* Note: There’s a difference between “religion” and personal faith. And it’s huge.