Our Bread and Circuses

Thomas Couture-The Romans of the Decadence
Thomas Couture-The Romans of the Decadence

If it seems as if more and more of us know less and less about the really important issues of our times, there is an explanation.

The following from an article in today’s Ad Age titled,  Flight 370 and Ukraine Give Big Win to Fox News, Big Lift to CNN, are instructive.

“The significant jump in viewership once again supports the idea that CNN sees its highest tune-in during major news events. Network President Jeff Zucker has been working to improve viewership in between big news with high-profile documentaries and series like Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown,” but news like the missing flight continue to be its bread and butter.”

Let that sink in.

“…news like the missing flight continue to be its bread and butter.”

While mysterious, sad, and tragic, the disappearance of a single airplane competes head-to-head on all the cable news outlets (to varying degrees) with geo-political events going on in the Ukraine that are already changing the borders of nations and pitting super powers against one another.

Let me be clear. The families and friends of the passengers on Flight 370 have only my sincerest and most heartfelt sympathies.

Still I must ask this question.

Is it any wonder that in this so-called Information Age in which we live we collectively seem to know so little – and often seem to care even less – about what’s happening in our government, to our environment, and to us as a society when…
….every passing storm now gets a name from the Weather Channel,
….Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC interrupts an interview with a former Congresswoman to bring us breaking news about Justin Bieber and,
….1.9 million Americans last week would even consider watching the charade and circus that is Fox News?

Is it too late? I don’t think so, but NASA has yet another warning for us (pesky scientists and all their facts).

Nafeez Ahmed wrote in the Guardian on Friday about a study done by NASA on, “…the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.”

The study is based on the research of applied mathematician, Safa Motesharrei.

Ask yourself if this has an unsettling tone to it.

By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.

These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: “the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity”; and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” These social phenomena have played “a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse,” in all such cases over “the last five thousand years.”

Corporate news media cares about one thing and one thing only, and that’s revenue.

Even when subscription revenues are considered, the vast majority of their revenue comes from advertisers and, as we all know, advertisers only spend money if they believe they can get our attention.

Now, if you think that doesn’t influence what subjects are covered by the corporate media, as well as how they are covered and presented to us, then let me share with you the Latin I learned today.

Panem et circensus.

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