Thursday, June 02, 2005

Turning Off the Michael Jackson Trial

Something dawned on me and I thought I'd work through it. It's in reference to the idea that people are lazy and many people don't want to better the world, improve their well-being or the well-being of those around them. As a current example, and in reference to technology, I'm struck by the amount of hours people have spent watching the Michael Jackson trial. There's the incessant media updates and there's a whole channel where actors act out the full courtroom transcripts from the day. Have you seen that show? The actor for Michael even looks like him.

On the positive side, people are learning about the judicial process. People are learning about how arguments are presented, how evidence is used, how witnesses are questioned. This is good. They're also learning the twisted mind and habits of the king of pop. Not sure if that's good or bad? Watching the trial also has the positive social value of being able to provide input and insight when the trial is raised in conversation. Many people get wrapped up in the drama of the trial in much the same way people get wrapped up in soap operas. Not that law and soaps are in the same league, but certain viewers derive entertainment value from following the unfolding of both.

My intuition is that if you asked these people what they would really like to be doing with their time (within reason) it would not be watching the Michael Jackson trial and even if it was it would probably not be to the extent that they do watch it. What I'm talking about is not a casual observer or someone who gets daily updates. I'm talking about people who have dedicated significant chunks of their life to following this trial. If pressed further, about why they're not reading, exercising, connecting with friends or family, painting, watching the sunset and so on, the questioning will probably veer toward fears and insecurities. That is, they're afraid to do the self-generated activities not so much because they're lazy or they don't want to be productive and contribute to their well-being and the well-being of the world but TV provides an "easy out" for them not having to confront their fears. Then, through incessant TV watching, they develop patterns that paralyze movement toward overcoming those fears at all. It's much easier to stay within the comfortable, warm bubble of watching TV. So, in this case, information is key. Not every single person is going to want to better their well-being, many are just plain lazy or apathetic, but a significant portion of those people who appear lazy don't know that their trapped. They don't see how they've allowed themselves to become seduced by the illusion of engaged experience TV promotes. They're distracted from their life-purpose and they don't know it. This is why such a situation leads to excess--the lack of awareness and no one has thrown them a rope (provided a clear analysis) and shown them the way out of the black tunnel-vision of the tube. So, they continue living myopic, reduced lives. Not risking much, not gaining much.

To finish this thought, I’m not saying that TV is bad or TV watching is bad. As I mentioned earlier there are many benefits to TV, even to watching the MJ trial. Part of what I’m saying is that all things in excess increase the experience of the negative aspects. TV just happens to be a more engulfing escape than many other mediums. The computer and the internet is another. But, beyond moderation while using technology lies the content of the programming.

Is thinking about Michael Jackson getting friendly with little boys a good thing? Is thinking about pedophilia a good thing? Socially, one can only hope it spreads awareness of such devastating behavior. But on a personal level how does viewing that content, especially in excess, affect the way you view the world? Does it make you more fearful of a man showing affection to a child? Does it make you think twice when you see a father being affectionate with his son? Does it warp or skew your perception of the magnitude of the problem? In other words, what does it do to your mental, physical and social well-being?


Blogger Larry B. said...

Dear Christopher,
I'm more interested in the broad topic of the downside of technology than the MJ trial. I've realized recently that, overall, technology, while improving individual lives, has been the main contributor to the destruction of the planet. It has enabled overpopulation and enormous pollution. Mere population growth is not enough to destroy the planet. But huge numbers with advanced technology, nuclear weapons, and vast usage of fossil fuels is rapidly bringing on massively destructive environmental deterioration. So, I'm not really a fan of ever increasing standards of living. More to come.
Larry B.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Is technology the root of the problem or humanity?

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Nano K. said...

Hi! Chris, I'm just getting through three monitors of e-mail when I got behind the two times in shop. Your words on MJ makes one think, for sure. I watched very little, but so much was shown on TV news, his picture usually turned up. I do believe I watch too much TV news as opposed to too much TV per se, because I seem to be getting more cynical in my "old" age. I shall try to watch myself...but it's difficult sometimes.

9:02 PM  

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