Strange...! Like an enormous buzzing beehive, billions of us live close to one another without ever knowing one another. Wasn't always this way. Well, it was when once we lived miles apart. But humanity has continued to cluster into cities. Where now we live closer together, yet feel further apart.
Can anyone explain this contradiction?
Plenty of experts claim the answers. Funny, though, the ones probably most responsible never admit to it. The mass media. What's so funny is at first they brought us closer together. The Pony Express ... telegraph...radio...television. When President Roosevelt held one of his Fireside Chats on radio in the 1930s, tens of million of us clustered around our sets and became one-nation-in-one-conversation.
These days, if a president wants our electronic attention, first he has to get free air time from the networks, and then compete with dozens of other options at our fingertips. Ball games, 100 cable channels, cooking shows, NetFlix, mainstreaming, DVRed programs, and the local Little League.
The day when the king from his balcony, "I Love Lucy" on Monday night, and the "Gone With The Wind" premiering at the local movie theatre brought us all together is long gone. Swept up in the exciting swirl of anytime, anywhere digital choices literally by the thousands. Just walk any downtown street to count the number of folks plugged into their own private world of music, movies, messages.
Hate to play the Hollywood Card here, but virtually all the electronic mass media is spawned in Hollywood film and television studios. Big industry. Big bucks. Big egos. Yet little interest in fulfilling the once "great calling of our industry to knit the nation together." Hell, that's what PBS is for!
Yet whenever I think about it, I can't help think the value of an industry is inversely proportional to the number of awards it gives itself. Is there any wonder the mass media have so little time interrupting their award ceremonies to service the national interest as once they did? During WWII they did it big time. Does it always take a war to bring out the best in these bastions...?
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