“HDTV is history’s most perfect narcotic.” – Mr. Digital
There is a stage in all addictions -- regardless of the narcotic -- when the addiction takes over as moderator of all our internal debates, when the addiction calls the shots and begins to dictate our behaviors and lives. Such is the case with our undeniable addiction to all things media and all things digital.
Once the addiction assumes control as moderator, all other competing interests are set aside or neglected entirely. The self-defense mechanisms that normally protect us from ourselves -- little things like values and ethics and self-restraint -- are sacrificed on the altar of the addiction.
Those things that promote the interests of the addiction,
such as convenience, narcissism and immediate gratification, are moved to the front of the queue.
Likewise, society driven by media (instead of media driven by society) eventually turns against itself like an autoimmune disease. The more we learn about food and nutrition, the more obese we become. The more we debate healthcare, the sicker we get.
The more we learn
about money and finance, the more frequently and violently our markets collapse. The more regulation and complexity we introduce to stabilize industry, the more fragile it becomes. The more we promote
democracy and freedom, the quicker our civil rights disappear.
Our addiction to all things media and all things digital is a jealous god and a ruthless censor. Like all addictions, it seeks to crush any challenge to its hegemony. Like all addictions, it rules with an iron fist and tolerates no outside interference. Our dependence on media is absolute.
Our addiction to all things media and all things digital has obliterated all common sense and eliminated just about any possibility of separating fact from fiction, even while we promote the Orwellian myth of digital accountability -- an invention that would humble the ministry curators of Newspeak. (Those charged with the deliberate removal of synonyms, antonyms and meaning from language.)
In the end, we wind up with a digitally engineered language bereft of nuance, a language whose only function is sheer efficiency, a language written only with thumbs, opposable or otherwise.
Addiction has been described in recovery circles as self-will run riot, as an exercise in narcissistic narcosis. Our addiction to the media explains why the most durable stories in the news are so frequently about the coverage of the news and not the headlines themselves.
Time and again, the most durable headlines are those that pit blowhard against blowhard, ego against ego and bias against
The stories behind the stories are essential components of our addiction to media. Like all media inventions and all addiction narratives, they exist solely to sell more media and promote the interests of the addiction. Promoting itself and all things in excess is what the media does best.
It ain’t for nothing that every digital device on the planet comes with an HD TV screen. The big media companies (including Google, Apple and Microsoft) are -- quite simply -- the biggest dealers on the block.