Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Idiot Box

Hey all,

There's something that's been in my mind lately, and I really can't hold back talking about it anymore, so here goes.

It really goes without saying that we live in an incredible time, we can communicate across the world, can look up information at the moment we think to look up something, and can project our opinions out to the world, as bad as they may be. (See what I did there?)

But there's a concern that I have, and I'm not the only one to feel this way.

We carry devices in our pockets everyday: idiot boxes.

Idiot boxes aren't designed to enable their users to create, they are merely designed for their users to consume: apps, news, entertainment, opinions, etc. Idiot boxes enable people to be more connected than ever, yet lonelier than ever. Idiot boxes allow us to embrace superficial relationships over real ones. Idiot boxes make people available at someone else's beck and call. Idiot boxes enable people to look up other people's opinions on subjects to avoid forming an opinion of their own.

What is an idiot box? You're probably reading this post using one right now: it's called your cell phone / tablet. Combined with the internet, idiot boxes have allowed people to engage in the behaviors I mentioned earlier.

I call these devices "idiot boxes" because they are not used to create, these devices are used for consumption, a lot like TV. Frankly, I think people use these devices as a crutch to consume content, to not think for themselves, to avoid critical thinking (hence "idiot").

Now, I'm not saying to throw away your cell phone, I use one everyday, if only because of work.

I pose to you a few questions:
  • How many of your friends on social media are your "real friends"? How many of them would care if you were feeling down, not superficial "I'm sorry" caring, but really feel for you? Will these friends hurt if you are hurting, and vice versa?
  • How many hours a day do you spend on YouTube, Spotify, Buzzfeed, etc.? How many hours of productivity have you lost?
  • Have you noticed that your attention span has shortened, even to the point that sitting and doing nothing for 10 minutes is agonizing?
  • How many times has someone asked you a question (via text or social media), and then expected you to reply almost immediately?
  • How many times have you been to dinner and noticed that a LOT of people are on their idiot boxes, not engaging with the people literally around them? 
  • How many times have you looked up a film review or game review and formed your opinion on said subject based on the review?
Idiot boxes and social media have turned people into a product, where people show only their best sides to the world, it's incredibly hard to make real friends in this way. "Friends" is simply a number that goes up based on your popularity. When times get rough, if all someone has is their social media "friends", that someone may not want to expose such feelings to the world, it can create a feeling of loneliness. Connected, yet lonely.

Having unlimited entertainment at our fingertips has given us instant gratification, we don't have patience anymore. We have grown accustomed to always having something playing, entertaining us; so much so that not having something around is the exception, not the norm.

Always being connected has allowed people to contact us at any time, for better or worse. People may expect an answer from another person immediately after sending a message, even when that person may be introverted or may not want to talk. We have become a product for other people to consume.

In some cases, people don't even pay attention to those around them, instead they choose to consume media from the idiot box. I don't know about you, but when someone does this to me (at dinner or something), I feel lonely, boring, or inadequate. Frankly, I find it rude.

Lastly, it's easy to avoid thinking critically when you can simply look up someone else's opinion and borrow said opinion.

All I ask is that every once in a while, break away from your idiot box, pay attention to those around you. Be understanding, be kind, and care for those immediately in front of you, they're people too. Spend time with your friends in the real world, talk with them over lunch or dinner. Take a few minutes out of the day to just exist, no entertainment.

Who knows, you may notice something you didn't before.


P.S. I find it amazing that we can communicate as much as we can now, just be sure to interact with the real world every once in a while.

P.S.S I want to make a game surrounding my feelings on this subject someday. Frankly, I hope by the time I get to making the game, my concerns are addressed and then I won't need to make the game at all.

P.S.S.S Don't form your opinion based on mine, think for yourself.