There is a small but dedicated school of archaeologists who contend that the Roman Empire was brought down not by barbarian hordes, but rather by the presence of lead in their drinking water.
According to Dr. Tomás R. Guilarte, PhD, Chair of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University, long time exposure to lead results in a lower IQ and reduced potential for learning.
It may be, that in 1,000 years or so, another school of archaeologists, (Chinese no doubt), will conduct their own studies of what had caused the decline and fall of the American Republic and Western Civilization as a whole. Like the ancient Romans, it may be that we have all along been poisoning ourselves with something we piped into our homes and consumed on a daily basis.
In our case, it would not be the water, but rather, the media — and specifically, the television and video. And it won’t be through the lead pipes, but rather through the fiber optic or cable or wifi that goes into every home in America.
Today, the average American spends an astonihing 5 hours a day, every day, watching TV. We spend 19 minutes a day reading. Devoting almost all your free time to TV watching over years and years has a cumulative effect. It warps the way you think.
It should be no surprise then that in 2016 we opted to elect not a politician but rather a Reality TV star as the President of the United States. In a TV saturated culture prior experience in government means nothing; spending 10 years as the star of one of the best-rated TV shows means everything.
And now, it should equally be no suprise that he runs the government not as a conventional administration, but rather also as a Reality TV show. It should be no surprise that he fills the cabinet not with qualified people, but rather with TV personalities, from John Bolton, Fox News talking head as the new National Security Advisor, to CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow as top economic advisor, Heather Nauert, a former Fox News anchor now at the State Department to Fox TV’s Mercedes Schlapp at White House Communications and Fox TV’s Tony Sadegh, now Treasury Department spokesman.
He not only hires from TV, he runs the government on a day to day basis as though it were a Reality TV Show — careening from self-created crisis to self-created crisis. This, of course, is the lifeblood of Reality TV. He has an endless fixation on ‘ratings’. Ratings are all that count. He understands this. This is why he was so quick to call Rosie O’Donnell to congratulate her on her great ratings. (Soon she may be the next Secretary of Education.)
This is clearly no way to run a government, unless you want to run it into the ground, but this is also clearly all he knows, and it should not be a surprise to anyone who watched 10 years of The Apprentice, the place in which he cut his teeth. Arc of story, crisis, resolution, and of course, endless firings were what made the show a success. It is really all he knows, so is it any wonder that he sees the world in this way?
If former KGB colonel and judo master Vladimir Putin wanted to design a brilliant yet remarkably cheap strategy for destroying the United States, he could not have come up with a better one than, in a judo-esque way, of using his opponent’s strength against him. Our ‘strength’ is our endless attachment and seemingly insatiable appetite for TV. Is it any wonder that, given the choice, we opted to place a Reality TV Star in the White House? Is it any wonder that he runs the country as though it was his own personal Reality TV Show? Did Putin have a part in this, or did we simply do it to ourselves? We just love TV. We cannot get enough of it. It is the way in which we define ourselves.
The problem with living your life through TV and ratings is that action, crisis and adventure in TV shows— what you need to hold the ratings — soon become boring. As with any heroin addict, the TV addicted nation needs a bigger and bigger hit to ‘stay tuned in’. Mexican Drug Dealers and Rapists no longer carries the same punch that it did in Season One. You need something bigger. The viewers have grown tired of the Evil Hillary. They need something new. New evil enemies must be found.
As ratings slip, producers get desperate. This is where shows start to jump the shark. How to drive up those ratings? Shake up the cast? New guest stars? A nuclear war in Korea?
Worth a shot.
As a society, we deserve Death By Television. Like smokers who get addicted to cigarettes and then get cancer, we became addicted to being endlessly entertained and now we are going to suffer the inevitable consequences.
Want to really Make America Great Again? Rip our your cable. Throw your TV out the window. Swear you will never watch again- Fox or CNN or MSNBC or anything else for that mattter. Pick up a book.
Can’t quite bring yourself to do it?
That’s OK. The Romans also loved their lead-infused water.