An image-based culture communicates through narratives, pictures, and pseudo-drama. Scandalous affairs, hurricanes, untimely deaths, train wrecks — these events play well on computer screens and television. International diplomacy, labor union negotiations, and convoluted bailout packages do not yield exciting personal narratives or stimulating images. A governor who patronizes call girls becomes a huge news story. A politician who proposes some regulatory reform or advocates curbing wasteful spending is boring. Kings, queens, emperors once used their court conspiracies to divert their subjects. Today cinematic, political, and journalistic celebrities distract us with their personal foibles and scandals. They create our public mythology. Acting, politics, and sports have become, as they were in Nero’s reign, interchangeable. In the age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we neither seek nor want honesty or reality. Reality is complicated. Reality is boring. We are incapable or unwilling to handle its confusion. We ask to be indulged and comforted by cliches, stereotypes, and inspirational messages that tell us we can be whoever we seek to be, that we live in the greatest country on earth, that we are endowed with superior moral and physical qualities, and that our future will always be glorious and prosperous, either because of our own attributes or our national character or because we are blessed by God. In this world, all that matters is the consistency of our belief systems. The ability to amplify lies, to repeat them and have surrogates repeat them in endless loops of news cycles, gives lies and mythical narratives the aura of uncontested truth. We become trapped in the linguistic prison of incessant repetition. We are fed words and phrases like war on terror or pro-life or change, and within these narrow parameters, all complex thought, ambiguity, and self-criticism vanish
Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion, 2009, page 49
I recently picked up Empire of Illusion and Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges. I will do my best not post block quote after block quote from these books, but this one screamed for sharing. Please validate me by reflecting my taste back through a contrived system that substitutes simple button pressing for informed dialogue and engaged discussion.