Today's media generate an enveloping--and ultimately isolating--illusion of connectedness.
Consider my own example:
I'm a more or less typical suburban resident who knows only a few immediate neighbors. When I drive past my subdivision and see all the rooftops peeking over the development's outer walls, I'm struck in an uneasy way by the number of people I don't know and who don't know me, even in this very limited geographical entity where I end my daily commute and rest and play with my children.The feeling of disconnectedness grows to more disturbing proportions when I contemplate the thousands of miles of similar subdivisions, stretching all across America, in which I also don't know a soul, and for whom I likewise might as well not exist. Today's media devote considerable effort to palliating this unease. They provide us with a parade of larger-than-life celebrities and iconic figures, all appearing to dwell at the absolute core of contemporary events; then tell us so much about these figures and their private lives that we come to believe we actually know them. This enables us to imagine ourselves equivalent to insiders at a royal court, where it doesn't matter that we don't know all the faceless peasants scurrying through the streets, since we're close to the aristocracy around whom the world revolves. We then make even less of an effort to get to know the real people around us. We end up holding passionate beliefs about O.J. Simpson's guilt or innocence, not to mention the patterns of his domestic life, yet rarely knowing a single tragic victim of spousal violence in our own communities; or becoming emotionally involved in the JonBenet Ramsay case, while remaining ignorant of and aloof from the child abuse going on all around us.
© COPYRIGHT 1998 ROBERT WINTER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.