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Mindless vs Mental Stimulation

I recently read a report that stated that depression in teenagers is directly related to the amount of time they spend alone listening to music.  At first, I thought this was ridiculous, but the more I read, the more I thought back to high school, the more apparent it became that this was right on the mark.  The article didn't expand into adult life, but I feel that there might be another correlation with stimulation and depression.  That would be mindless versus mental stimulation.

Last night I was talking to someone who made the comment that I'm too "judgy" when it comes to television.  It was regarding a show that I said I didn't like, but after giving it a second chance, found that I like it.  So much that I've seen every episode, which for me is a rarity.  That being said, I don't feel I'm judgy, I just feel that my quiet time needs are different than others.  Back in the 80's, mindless television were shows like Dallas and Dynasty, but in recent years it's become reality TV.  I don't think there is  anything worse to happen to our society ever.  I seriously mean this.

Fans of reality television are basically giving in to a notion that other people's lives are more exciting than theirs.  When I read that more people voted for the winner of the 2008 American Idol show than voted in the presidential election, it scared me.  Is the between the two Davids more important than the leader of our nation?  Sadly, for most, it is. 

Recently I've realized that the people who make comments about this new show Mob Wives are also the people who are writing "FML" every day in their status updates.  They are openly complaining about their relationships, jobs, kids, etc.  The people who make comments about news stories are usually they one's who are listing things that had a positive effect on their day.  I'm not saying there are some crossovers, but it's pretty much one sided.  I'm not saying I'm immune to the reality TV itch.  I do like some cooking competitions and I will admit to getting hooked on The Voice last season.  I do think there was a small difference between the Voice and AI and that is, in my opinion....good singing.  The worst singers on The Voice were better than the best in any of the seasons of American Idol (with one exception....Carrie Underwood).

The thing that bothers me most is that these shows, which are aimed to be nothing more than 30 minutes distractions after a hard day, have become water cooler topics.  People genuinely care about characters like Snooki, Tila Tequila and whatever that Mob Wife's name is.  The Bachelor or Dancing with the Stars is painful to watch.  Sure I tuned in to see Kirstie Alley and it was impressive, but after five minutes I was done.  I'm definitely not going to discuss it the following day.

Now I know people don't always love talking about religion or politics, but why do I know so few people who discuss things that actually involve needing a brain to speak about?  I recently had a conversation with someone about the standards required to pass high school English classes.  We discussed how classic novels aren't necessarily required reading.  I mentioned how 90% of high school student aren't capable of writing a proper essay at a college level and that is due to the lax requirements.  Listening to kids between the ages of 15-25 these days has become painful.  A complete lack of vocabulary skills and sentence structure is ruining our youth.  It's too easy to blame the schools, who are definitely failing, but some blame, if not most, should be placed on the parents.  If kids are allowed to watch morons speak on TV and they try and emulate them, chances are they too will become that way.  Parents need to understand when kids aren't shown that this isn't the way people actually behave, they will follow.  When they see people getting famous for being stupid, they think it's cool.  It's human nature to admire riches and recognition.  It's learned not to accept that stupidity is not an option.

Now, I like sitting back and watching a ballgame.  Cerebral it's not, but when the discussion turns to how today's players compare to those of different eras, then thought, calculations and interpretations are taking place (aka thought).  Now I'm not saying everyone should spend five hours watching the news or reading Pride and Prejudice, but I don't see how people can spend 8-11pm every single night watching mindless crap.  Even worse, letting your kids watch that kind of stuff. 

I'm lucky in that I'm actually friends with a lot of younger people who have their heads on straight, but I am friends with five times as many who don't.  I am friends with those who watch reality TV religiously and I have friends who shutter at the thought of sitting through two minutes of it.  Some of each group is intelligent, average and moronic, but it's definitely not equally spread.  My fear is that we're creating an environment where intelligence is bound to disappear eventually.   It's almost entirely disappeared from prime time television and that's happened in less than twenty years.  How long before it disappears from our youth?

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