Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Age of Perpetual Distraction

By Dan Hagen
Art by Andre Kramer
“Conversation enriches the understanding,” Gibbon wrote. “But solitude is the school of genius.”
So it’s no wonder that we live, not in an age of genius, but in an age that often seems to be heading heedless and hell-bent in the opposite direction. 
Human families and communities once lived in isolation, becoming connected in recent centuries by mass media and mass education. Now the digital media era is shaping up to be, not a new Enlightenment, but the Age of Perpetual Distraction.
The hunger for constant, instant digital stimulation has made Skinner Box pigeons of the lot of us. The need for the digital fix turns out to be as compulsive as yanking the levers on a slot machine.
Lunch in the Eastern Illinois University Union Food Court, April 2013. In the next booth are two female students staring down at their cell phones, reading aloud sexy-mushy anonymous messages from the EIU gossip site, one after the other, for 10 minutes, 20, 30...

"Groups of friends who have lost the will to converse, huddling together solely for warmth and light,” Will Durst wrote. “Drivers staring into their laps, their faces reflecting an eerie glow. Entire families walking past each other hypnotized by their devices, going days without engaging in any major argument. Dealing with the chronically anesthetized is exhausting. Who hasn’t tired of politely turning after being addressed only to find it’s some zombie in a suit on a Bluetooth talking to himself? But the worst are the suited Bluetoothed elevator zombies. Shut your piehole, dirtwipe. Nobody here cares to know how many units need to be transferred to Topeka by Wednesday; we would pay good money to see some Topeka stuffed up your unit today." 


  1. Nice post, but i'd call it corporate sponsored rather than state sponsored. The media is owned by corporations in this country.

  2. I would agree with you, and would have said that had I created the art. I would add that in our proto-fascist society, the state and the corporations are increasingly identical.