I’m not just talking about how social media allows us to present an idealized version of ourselves.
I’m not talking about fashion magazines that photoshop their models.
I’m not talking about celebrity gossip culture and the dumbing down of television.
I’m talking about the subtle values that have been ingrained into our society and our blindness to changing them.
I’ve had the rest of this post written for a while, but with everything with Ferguson, this felt like the time to post. People keep getting caught up in the emotions and the media coverage, but in the long term, it’s just one battle in the long struggle for racial equality, something that at best will become a line in future history textbooks.
News stations would rather focus on conflicts and natural disasters than the gradual underlying processes of society because it’s easily digestible and easy to cover. Piece together a series of relevant facts, and BOOM. News article. New scientific advances are saved as filler material for “slow” days. (Unless of course it has to do with Justin Bieber.)
The Fault in Our Stars and similar books/movies have been accused of glamorizing cancer. I have a friend who told me, “I WANT TO GET CANCER AND GO TO AMSTERDAM FOR FREE” after reading the book. I was excited for the movie to come out, but when I was watching it, all I could think was, “This was clearly made to be a tearjerker. ALSO WHY IS AMSTERDAM SO PERFECT.”
Even schools are glamorizing themselves. Sports and extracurricular acheivements adorn the websites, while the academic achievements receive barely a line. It’s easy to fill up a page with sports highlights and art projects, while the picture of student smiling at a test tube has already been overused and doesn’t do justice to what academics are actually about.
And adults wonder why students don’t seem to value academics.
A few years ago, Jake Halpern surveyed a group of 650 students in New York about fame.
[Students were] asked: “When you grow up, which of the following jobs would you most like to have?” There were five options to chose from and, among girls, the results were as follows:
9.5% chose “the chief of a major company like General Motors”;
9.8% chose “a Navy Seal”;
13.6% chose “a United States Senator”;
23.7% chose “the president of a great university like Harvard or Yale”;
and 43.4% chose “the personal assistant to a very famous singer or movie star.”
Our shortened attention spans are notable. When sites like Buzzfeed become viral, yet no one wants to read the hardcore journalism, it’s safe to say something’s wrong. Youtube videos with superfast talking are the only thing that can hold our attention. I’ve had to start playing videos at 1.5x speed or else I get bored.
Can everything just slow down for a while?