By Dr. Rose A. Dyson

Toronto – Canada

 

 

ROSE A. DYSON, EdD, media education consultant experienced in nursing psychiatry, psychology and the arts, is president of Canadians Concerned About Violence in Entertainment.  She was co-founder of the 1996 International Cultural Environment Movement, and serves on executive committees for Canadian Peace Research Association and World Federalists, Toronto Branch.

 

 

 

 

Weapons Of Mass Distraction

 

 

 

Unbridled consumerism presents us with huge challenges as the global population grows. Advanced economies generate not only an ever-increasing array of products but growing emphasis on creating new demands.  Clearly a delicate balance must be struck between fewer people in the world and more people with fewer needs, wants and desires as our collective ecological footprints grow.  Indeed it is sometimes argued that the triumph of capitalism has created a cultural environment of induced childishness.  The result has been an infantilization that is closely tied to the indiscriminate demands of consumerism.  Consider the phenomenom of teens and young adults lining up for blocks anywhere in the world to purchase a coveted early copy of the latest version of an action packed video game such as “Call of Duty”.

 

Widespread use of violence as a form of entertainment is known to result in decreasing civility to the point where civilization and, in turn, democratic capitalism itself is at risk. World-renowned American media scholar, George Gerbner called media violence as entertainment the “hidden curriculum” leading to a “mean world syndrome”.   It seems obvious that changing behavior and common practices to ensure a sustainable future is our primary challenge today.

 

Scientists and activists alike warn us that, on the subject of climate change, time is running out.  We no longer have decades left to turn things around, only years.  Social and economic organization based on cooperation designed to serve life rather than endless accumulation of stuff will require a new economic order.  Emphasis must shift from stimulating consumer spending to generate economic growth to what is needed to keep the global temperature below two degrees Celsius in order to maintain a habitable planet.

 

The digital revolution is frequently lauded as less carbon intensive while stimulating innovation and job creation.  But how many devices does anyone really need, and for what purpose?  For endless, emersion in gaming, texting and Facebook befriending at the expensive of real, carbon free, human interactions?  This is a distraction we can no longer afford.  It is estimated that the average middle class westerner’s per capita energy consumption is eight times greater than it was in the 1960s.  This is not sustainable.  And given the increasing evidence of family breakdown, distrust of government and fragmenting of democratic institutions as a whole, is this even desirable?

 

New digital technologies underscore the extent to which we live in a global village.  They offer us enormous potential in mobilizing for political action, limiting climate change and dealing with health pandemics but they can also be mobilized for harmful and destructive tendencies.  It behooves us all to become more discriminating in what we buy and for what purpose.

 





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