Donald Trump’s presidency has marked a paradigm shift in human civilization. Yes, you’ve read that right. Those were the consequences of the 2016 election. Previous to his inauguration, the world was living in the Age of Information, but that can’t be true anymore, not when the phrase “alternative fact” has been added to the lexicon. We have since entered the Age of Entertainment.
Historians have long divided human history into technological ages, with the most influential tool of the era coming to define the time. There was the Stone Age and the Bronze Age and so on and so forth. However, if we’re going to be honest, the term technology is really only a euphemism for weapon. Might makes right in this world and thus the world has always bent to the shape of the world’s biggest dick *cough* Trump *cough*. The Stone Age gave us phallic arrowheads, the Bronze Age followed up with phallic swords, and now, in the Entertainment Age, we’re holding a big, black remote control.
“Knowledge is Power.” That assertion was true for every era since the Enlightenment, but it died with the birth of fake news. In the Age of Entertainment, there is no longer a consensus on what is fact and what is fiction, especially when it comes to politics. It’s simple. Without facts, we are without reason. Emotions are all that remain, and that’s a dangerous vulnerability for us, humans. It can be exploited and often is, as Entertainment is designed to appeal to our emotions, acting as a stimulant that induces pleasure. Long story short: Entertainment is a drug, and it can be weaponized as such.
Here is how it happens:
Only in the Movies
If your diet of information is mostly made up of Entertainment, then the extraordinary becomes routine and expected. Anything seems possible. When a president promises to build a border wall and have the neighboring country pay for it, then that outlandish claim can seem plausible to people. Crazier things have happened in every story that was ever “based on true events.” Truth is stranger than fiction, right?
It is no coincidence that Trump’s most common refrain throughout his campaign was, “Believe me. Believe me.” He’s picked up on the fact that people are once again driven by blind faith and emotion. That’s not good. The last era in which we did that was called the Dark Ages.
Tower of Babel
In the Entertainment age, people converse with one another in a series of manic pop-culture references, as if everybody has sucked down one too many coffees with Rory and Lorelei. The reason why we do this is because we’re more familiar with pop culture than we are with our friends, our family, our neighbors, and ourselves. The experiences of the characters we follow on TV are becoming stand-in for the one’s we’re forfeiting while we watch them, which isolates us from real, flesh-and-blood humans.
With the invention of the Smartphone, Entertainment is never further than arm’s reach. That change, along with having more content than ever before, means somebody can self-select Entertainment that only conforms to and confirms their personal opinions. As consequence, two distinct cultural eco-systems have emerged in America, conservative and liberal. All forms of entertainment have been separated into these two camps, from music, to movies, to news. Soon there will be no more shared references between liberals and conservatives and they will become strangers to one another. Empathy will be lost next and that will lead to further conflicts between the groups because Entertainment divides before it conquers.
ADD is a 21st Century Disease
It is now an act of moral courage to read anything that’s over 140 characters. That’s the reason why zombies have been this generation’s monster-of-choice. They represent our collective nightmare. We’ve all heard mom’s warning that TV will rot our brains, and it begins with our attention spans. Entertainment attacks our attention by becoming shorter and shorter, thereby shifting the stimulant of Entertainment from comprehending the content to consuming the content, with the highs coming with every click. It’s why we’ve gone from novels to movies to TV to tweets, each form of Entertainment is more digestible than the last until it becomes the equivalent of intellectual snack food, a situation rendered even more dangerous as the Internet has made the supply of Entertainment infinite. For those in control, Netflix & chill is the modern day bread & circus. That’s why we’ve elected an orange clown to lead us.
A Healthy Entertainment Diet Represented as a Food Pyramid
The most sinister aspect of Entertainment is that it is completely democratic, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Democracy sounds good in theory, but it’s not if the average American is an idiot. To be fair, the average American has always been an idiot, hence why they are considered average, but these idiots used to know they were idiots and acted accordingly. They knew what they didn’t now. Not anymore. Reality TV has convinced them that they’re experts.
Shows like America’s Got Talent are to blame. They have a panel of judges on set where each judge is an expert in their respective field, but all the judges do is offer up their opinion on the proceedings. The real power goes to the viewers, who vote, and who may be an expert in nothing more than wiping his/her ass. This undermines the idea of a knowledgeable authority when both everyone and no one is an authority figure. The consequences of this are far ranging, felt when people reject overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change and vaccinations whenever it’s convenient, or elect Donald Trump President despite nearly everyone endorsing Hillary.
The White House’s Hall of Mirrors
Luckily, Trump and the Entertainment Age’s reign will be short-lived. Human advancement occurs at an exponential pace, with each innovation building upon the last one. According to the chart below, we are heading for another leap forward soon.
While Entertainment made Trump, it will ultimately be his undoing. He has made politics into a spectator sport where it once wasn’t. It used to be that people ignored politicians, allowing them to operate in the shadows. Not anymore. Every bright light of the Entertainment industry is trained on Trump and his administration and there’s nowhere for them to hide. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that we are rapidly approaching zero on our timeline. Look. Soon the big, black remotes will learn to fight back, and we’ll enter the Age of Artificial Intelligence. But maybe we, humans, want to live in the Matrix. If Trump voters are any indication, the human condition is desperate to live in a state of alternative reality. The other possibility is that humanity, led by a crazed man with a large arsenal of nukes at his disposal, is hurtling towards absolute zero. It could be that our next step forward will be the one that takes off the existential edge. The moral of this story is this: Entertainment has no happy endings.