I’m concerned for the fate of mankind. After reading over Yahoo’s 2011 Year in Review, it’s apparent our society cares more about gadgets and celebrities- with a little bit of awesomely tragic and tragically awesome news thrown in- than the more important happenings both nationally and internationally. In short, our society is doomed.
I realize it’s a strong statement to make- and also many might argue that it doesn’t matter, as the world is ending in a year- but it’s hard to ignore the idea when the facts all point in that direction.
Sure, the Japan earthquake and Osama bin Laden made the cut, but they were at the tail end of the list, almost like an afterthought. Casey Anthony probably only made the list because most people were hot on Google to see if one of her many threateners had successfully taken her out yet. I’d even be a little less harsh if Apple had made the number one spot- technology can be a very important aspect of our society, and Apple sure does seem to make the most significant contributions in the tech world- but it wasn’t Apple as a whole that wore the title of number one, it was the iPhone. Which only leads me to assume that our society’s obsession with the computer-esque phone has reached an all-time high- and will probably only continue to grow as Apple adds a slew of new features and releases the iPhone 5, 6, 7 and so on.
If these are the kind of headlines people care about, we're pretty much screwed. Honestly, why does it matter what celebrity is prettier? C'mon people.
But the most disturbing part of Yahoo’s Top 10 was the overbearing presence of celebrities (and female ones, at that). Not government or politics (and the scandalous politicians that go with it). Not international wars or protests (and the war heros and tragic casualties characteristic of both). Celebrities. Famous people. Ordinary people, no different from you and me, who’ve been thrust into the limelight and been declared better than the rest of us, by the rest of us. We put them there because they entertain us. Their sole purpose is to provide an escape, sure, but the talented half- the Jennifer Anistons and the Katy Perrys- possess no more capability of being talented than those who will remain undiscovered for the rest of their lives. And for the other half- the Kim Kardashians and the Lindsay Lohans- society will continually love to hate them and hate to love them, but we will keep them alive and relevant nonetheless. We become so obsessed with looking like them and dressing like them and acting like them that we forget who we are as individuals. Individuality seems a thing of the past with more and more Jersey Shore wannabes and Justin Bieber look-alikes turning up everywhere (although I must say I’m surprised- but relieved- Bieber didn’t make the list in any fashion). Instead of trying to be unique and one-of-a-kind, the next generation, the one who is going to someday take over ruling this nation that is already in such peril, focuses more everyday on replicating their favorite celebs. By imitating the appearances and actions of those in the spotlight, we assume it will make us more popular and someday lead to our moment in the spotlight (even if it is only five minutes of fame).
The lack of interest, or even basic concern, for what is going on in the world around us makes me wonder if we as a society will ever mature, will ever be capable of positive progress. We have so much potential to be smarter, wittier, to care more about the world, yet we let it all go to waste by spending our time addicted to Angry Birds or watching Teen Mom on a loop. I fear we are on a cyclical path, and that we’ve already made it to the climactic point of progress, that it’s all downhill from here, that we will someday have lost all capacity for intelligent thought and behavior that we will be worse off than cavemen. Of course, we won’t be living in caves and cooking the meat we caught that day over an open flame, but the concept is the same. We will have gotten to the point where we no longer remember how to function on our own. It will be like the humans in Wall-E, who’ve become so addicted to technology and irrelevant matter that they must rely on computers to live for them.
I don’t want to end up in a world where material things and the state of being dumb and ignorant are the things to strive for. But I fear we’re already there.