As Trump melds TV-watching with Tweeting, in his warped flow of media-addled consciousness, he is the perfect example how our TV-addicted culture has now morphed into the tech-addicted culture of alt-“facts.”
Mental health experts have claimed the President is ‘paranoid and delusional’ and say it’s their ‘ethical responsibility’ to warn the American public. If he’s crazy, what drove him nuts? I think several things may have: money, nasty racist parents, his warped genetic template… but in my opinion TV finished his sanity off and his tech addiction was the coup de grâce.
In Trump’s case the madness induced by too much TV-watching was exacerbated by too much exposure on TV as a TV star. Delusion was thus fed by ego. Alt-reality vanquished actual reality.
TV and today’s tech addictions are warping our view of reality. I’m not alone in this view. Andrew Bacevich is a prescient observer of contemporary culture. For instance, before the 2016 election he noted that “in contemporary America, celebrity confers authority” and asked, “How else to explain the host of a ‘reality’ TV show instantly qualifying as a serious contender for high office?” Writing these lines in the context of the fraught election primaries, Bacevich noted that Donald Trump’s genius in crashing the election cycle was an event linked to general social decline.
Bacevich asked his readers to consider the skill with which Trump played the media, especially celebrity journalists who themselves specialize in smirking cynicism. Rather than pretending to take them seriously, Trump “unmasked their preening narcissism, which mirrors his own.” (“Don’t Cry for Me, America“)
TV and tech has also driven many other Americans mad. Literally.
A New York Times story “A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute” from October 22, 2011, revealed something remarkable. It turns out that some of the giants within the tech corporate world foist one kind of tech-mediated reality onto other people’s children while demanding something better for their own children.
The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard. But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.
Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix….
“I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school,” said Alan Eagle, 50, whose daughter, Andie, is one of the 196 children at the Waldorf elementary school; his son William, 13, is at the nearby middle school. “The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous.”
Mr. Eagle knows a bit about technology. He holds a computer science degree from Dartmouth and works in executive communications at Google…. But he says his daughter, a fifth grader, “doesn’t know how to use Google,” and his son is just learning. (Starting in eighth grade, the school endorses the limited use of gadgets.)
The article reports that three-quarters of the students at this no-tech-for-young-kids school have parents with a top high-tech connection. According to Eagle, technology has a time and place: “If I worked at Miramax and made good, artsy, rated R movies, I wouldn’t want my kids to see them until they were 17.” The article notes that while other schools in the region brag about their “wired classrooms,” the Waldorf school embraces a simple, retro look—“blackboards with colorful chalk, bookshelves with encyclopedias, wooden desks filled with workbooks and No. 2 pencils.”
It seems a bit ironic, to say the least, that some of the tech elite making billions off the rest of our children’s early childhood tech addictions choose not to do to their own children what is so wildly profitable for their companies to do to other people’s children.
Back to tech-addicted Trump.
Trump is what happens when media and politics become forms of entertainment. Trump is the product of TV and the Internet. He is the reward for our culture’s addictions to TV and now to tech devices. We were warned. As our world begins to look more and more like Orwell’s 1984, Neil’s Postman’s essential guide — Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985)-– to the modern media is more relevant than ever.
Trump’s rise to power would not have surprised Postman. As the cover copy of the book notes, Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse “has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century.” Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones—it has taken on even greater significance.
For Trump — a reality TV star who parlayed his bullying persona into a winning political brand — television is the guiding force of his day. The same can be said for his voters– the white evangelicals who helped build media empires by sending TV conman preachers money. Explaining his decision to launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base, Trump even cited, publicly and privately, the gruesome images of dead and dying Syrian children poisoned with nerve agent. Trump (like many TV-addicted Americans) turns on the television almost as soon as he wakes, then checks in periodically throughout the day in the small dining room off the Oval Office, and continues late into the evening when he’s back in his private residence. “Once he goes upstairs, there’s no managing him,” said one adviser.
Today technology addiction is a national problem as Postman predicted it would be. Trump is not alone. He may be crazy but his core voters are crazy too. TV drove them mad. Tech just completed the job of destroying their minds.
According to a 2012 study, 66 percent of people would feel panicked without their phones. Research from Swansea and Milan Universities also found that heavy Internet users suffered from withdrawal similar to those experienced by drug users when they went offline, TIME reported.
Research shows the technology we process each day is actually rewiring our brains, between the multitasking and the addiction we feel when we’re without it. “We are exposing our brains to an environment and asking them to do things we weren’t necessarily evolved to do,” Adam Gazzaley, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco, told the New York Times in 2010. “We know already there are consequences.”
A TV-tech-maddened public has elected one of their own: a TV star and addict with a broken brain and the attention span of a demented jellyfish.
As Niel Postman put it: ” When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.”
Please WATCH my 6 minute video commentary on how Trump was driven mad by too much tech and TV…