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Can there be too much entertainment?

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I don’t know if you caught Joanna Lumley on TV the other night.  She was there to talk about a new movie that she’s made with Martin Scorsese which she was understandably thrilled about.

Now I’ve always liked Lumley. I like the fact that she comes across as barking mad, but underneath the upper-class outer she’s actually a very smart lady with some interesting opinions. When the conversation with Jonathon Ross wandered into technology and the way it impacts on our lives – she said something that really hit home. Not only does she hate mobile phones, she also thought they were bad for our creative minds. Her point was that our brains are being bombarded with junk food for the brain, and these days our grey matter is in continual ‘react’ mode.  We don’t just sit looking out of the window anymore, letting our brains go and wander where they like. Instead we feed them with stuff that teaches our brain to just absorb and respond – but it’s not doing what it’s supposed to do – by that she means think.  Well not very often any way.

Entertainment is something we think of as having a good time, but is it? And why do we need so many distractions? What do we gain, because for me it doesn’t get us anywhere. Are our lives that empty that we need it to fill every available space?

Joanna Lumley is not alone. The artist Gerard Boersma calls it the 'The Invisible Tyranny of Too Much Entertainment' and says, “We love it so much that I sometimes wonder if we aren’t controlled by it. I think most of us are, I do believe entertainment is dictating a lot of lives. It's the one thing we all want as soon as we possibly can, we’re all addicted to it in some way. I'm afraid entertainment has become a tyranny.

‘The problem isn’t that we’re laughing instead of thinking, it’s that we don’t know what we’re laughing about and why we stopped thinking in the first place. That’s what people like Aldous Huxley and Neil Postman warned us about and I think they’re right. It’s a pretty black picture, I know, but there’s an antidote.

“Setting goals, that’s the only antidote I see for a culture being drained with pleasure. Decide upon what it is you want most in life, what price you’re willing to pay to get there. Then make a plan and get busy making your plan a reality. Get up, get out and do something. Learn all the skills necessary, get educated, set deadlines and work all the time you work.

“Do the things that are hard and necessary, rather than the things that are fun and easy. Dissolve to never give up and I’m sure you don’t want to swim in the sea of amusements no more. Ironically, that's when the real fun begins.”

 

@fountainjohn

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