Friday, July 3, 2009

Mental Obesity

With all of the clucking and concern about the ever expanding American midsection, we're more and more aware that our endless diet of empty calories is having a critical impact on our physical well-being. Limitless helpings of beef and grease and carbohydrates have etched the image of the Fat American into the minds of European and Asian societies.

Are we the place where the huddled masses come, yearning to breathe free? Not any more. We're the place where we've got so much mass huddled around our midsection that we yearn to breathe freely after half a flight of stairs.

Well, we yearn for breath and a Krispy Kreme. Or maybe just the Krispy Kreme. Mmmm.

Though we're collectively stressed about our growing lardiness, I think that's not the most significant of our concerns. The American people's endless diet of empty calories is easily matched by our endless diet of empty information.

And this second one is far, far more dangerous to our republic.

I'm reminded of this every time I open my old legacy AOL account, and am bombarded by the latest information about John and Kate. Or when I go shopping and am assailed by fascinating new facts about Branjelina. Or when I go to CNN looking for news, and get only the latest irrelevant factoids about the passing of a pop star none of us would have trusted our children with. Is that an...interview? With a family member? Why? Just 'cause his name is Jermaine doesn't mean what he's saying is relevant, people.

I'm reminded of this every time I'm immersed in our commercialized culture. We're a society where Lucky and Stuff--all ads, nothing but ads--are magazines people actually pay good money for. The "information" within is nothing. It's the latest pitch for the latest product...but it fills and forms and directs our minds.

I am convinced that this endless media cornucopia of meaningless information is as damaging to the national psyche as bellying up for your second BK Quad Stacker. We are overstuffed with information that means nothing, gorged to bursting with irrelevance, and so mentally obese that we can no longer discern good from bad.

This is why Transformers 2 is the Feel-Good-Hit of the summer. This is why we go to big loud shiny churches.

It will not end well.