Evolution Versus Mass Media

Evolution is all about adaptation. A species gets better and better at exploiting its environment over time. If the environment suddenly changes, the species may not be able to adapt quickly enough to survive. Ice ages are a good example. Or droughts. Humans are unique in that we can change our environment by design. What makes us even more unique is we are our environment. Culture works on humans in the same way nature works on all species.

It’s a big complicated subject which is why progressives have decided evolution stopped in 1968. That way they don’t have to struggle to get their head around the recursive relationship between man and nature. They can just put the white hat on nature and the black hat on man. Complicated things like science are bad for ideology.

It also leaves more time for the war on the PPP, but that’s a subject for another day. The topic for now is how we as modern humans have changed our environment. Specifically, the creation and dominance of mass media. Modern America is marinated in mass media. Everyone’s opinion on everything is controlled by the magic boxes in their life, TV, PC and mobile phone.

Because no one wants to look at old hags, TV is dominated by young hyper-attractive people. Most of whom are as dumb as a goldfish, but they can read from a teleprompter without moving their eyes. The job is to grab and keep the viewer’s attention. Similarly, the Interwebs is run by the young and those who pretend to be young. Therefore the language is geared for a high school level viewer. Again, it’s about getting and holding the attention of the people.

The problem, of course is that you end up with former mall cops pretending to be experts. They are interviewed by guys like Brian Williams, who are lost in a fantasy world and probably in need of psychiatric help. From the perspective of TV, it makes no difference if the opinions and experts are batshit crazy, just as long as they get and keep an audience. MSNBC had a nice run with this model.

This may not seem like a thing until you consider that public opinion is set by mass media. Handsome popular goldfish says something wacky on TV and it rattles through the sea of megaphones we call the media. Rather quickly, people are walking around convinced that biology is a social construct or that women should be allowed to vote.

In fact, there is a bias toward the stupid and against the correct answers. Here’s a good example I saw in Tyler Cowen’s site today.

A decade ago, when the golf course was a de facto playground for the professional set and a young Californian named Tiger Woods was the world’s best player, golf looked like an unassailable national undertaking, and corporate players were champing at the bit to get in.

But the business behind one of America’s most slow-going, expensive and old-fashioned pastimes has rapidly begun to fall apart. TaylorMade-Adidas Golf, the world’s biggest maker of golf clubs and clothes, saw sales nosedive 28 percent last year, its parent company Adidas said Thursday.

“A decline in the number of active players … caused immense problems in the entire industry, and as a market leader, this hit us particularly hard,” Adidas chief executive Herbert Hainer said on a call with analysts.

The sporting-goods giant has taken “some painful measures to restructure and stabilize” its golf division, Hainer said, including listing its slow-selling golf gear at deep discounts and postponing new launches. The coming years, Hainer had previously warned, present even more “significant negative headwinds” for the game.

It’s been years since the increasingly unpopular sport of golf plunked into the rough, and the industry now is realizing that it may not be able to ever get out. All the qualities that once made it so elite and exclusive are, analysts say, now playing against it.

The game — with its drivers, clubs, shoes and tee times — is expensive both to prepare for and to play. It’s difficult, dissuading amateurs from giving it a swing, and time-consuming, limiting how much fans can play. Even what loyalists would say are strengths — its simplicity, its traditionalism — can seem overly austere in an age of fitness classes, extreme races and iPhone games.

What you see here is common in our media. They take what is a boring industry story and lard it with their favorite crackpot theories to make it more interesting to readers. The real answer for golf’s decline to its traditional place in the culture is white people are getting old. Golf has always been a sport for middle-aged white guys. When the boomers were in their peak golf years, golf peaked. Now that boomers are aging out of golf, golf is declining.

This is a boring answer, but the right one. Golf is a sport you pick up in your middle years. You spend money on gear, lessons and trips. By the time  you hit 60 you’re starting to slow down. You still play, but you no longer spend money on the latest clubs. Instead of golf trips around the country, you play courses near home. Of course, many golfers past 60 give up the game because they are dead.

The American baby boom ran from roughly 1945 -1964. That means the front end is now 70 and the tail end is 50, with the bulk in the 60 range. In other words, if you were at the Summer of Love or Woodstock, you’re spending more on your prostate than your golf game.

That’s a boring answer so the chattering skulls in the media will trot out their favorite fantasies about social trends. The result here and everywhere is a public walking around with crazy ideas in their heads. Take a look around and it is hard to see anyone under the age of 50 not attached to a media consumption device, getting instruction from the chattering skulls. It has to have an impact.

I wonder if humans can adapt quickly enough to thrive in this world. I get the sense we are in the hot soak period of the technology age. When you shut your car off, the engine actually gets hotter for a few minutes before rapidly cooling down to air temperature. That’s what’s happening with modern societies. Technology is advancing, but the ending has been shut off.

Humans evolved for 200,000 years for a world of face to face communication. Therefore, we got good at it. It took a long time to get good at it. We have had no time to adapt to a world of megaphones blasting nonsense at us. Maybe homo sap is just reverting to a natural norm. For most of settlement, a small number of smart people ran societies of illiterate morons. Perhaps the future is the past.

9 thoughts on “Evolution Versus Mass Media

  1. Duck,

    The Mass Media is the new vatican. They preach at you out of the New and Improved Testament.

  2. My grandfather used to say of golf; hitting a little white ball and then chasing after it. I enjoyed golf as a young man but after the arrival of children I no longer had the time to pursue it. Working 5 days and very frequently away on business trips over the weekend left me little time with my family and it seemed selfish to devote a whole day of my off time leaving the wife and kids home. Well now the kids are grown and gone and I have the time but I no longer want to “hit a little white ball and chase after it.” Not judging, just saying.

    • I played some golf a decade ago or so, but my peers were never much into it. I’m not all that interested in making new friends just to play golf so I dropped it. I may hit the driving range on occasion to get some sun and exercise, but that’s it. I think if my friends were into it, I’d play as it seems like a fine way to kill a few hours. Instead, I spend my leisure time in the gym or on my bike. It’s cheap, I can do it when I have a free hour or two in the day and I don’t have to do it with others.

  3. Golf is an interesting phenomena in the world of sports. Most sports require some talent, and probably speed (which is almost exclusively available to the younger end of the species), but golf — oft described as a long walk spoilt by carrying a stick and having to hit a ball — is tailored to age. Increasingly so, too.

    The original concept of golf, played on a links course, is essentially battling with the elements on the fringe of land where the sea threatens to take control. But the appeal of the game was eased by building sheltered, inland and very gentle (for that read heavily manicured) landscapes that would allow ease of access and with it, golf buggies.

    What used to be a shelter from the wind and the seagulls has become a clubhouse, with drinks and more drinks.

    As such it is ideal for the older person but, putting aside snobbish clubs and expenses, the golf fraternity is also faced with a hostile ‘enviro-mental’ lobby who see building golf courses as despoiling the countryside. As these nut cases want to stop everyone doing anything and have a moral high horse supported by their friends in the media, getting to play this game seems a lot of hard work and potentially troublesome.

    This is what we are faced with now. Once you could more or less do what you wanted (if legal) and if people disapproved, they ignored you. Now we have the young being pumped up to be ‘social justice warriors,’ willing to hassle people to stop them doing legal things on some pretext of saving the planet or making things fair for squirrels.

    This is the change in society. We, in priming aggressive youth, have become at war with ourselves over minor issues while cleverly avoiding the big issues. If I had to point out what the difference was between 1960 and 2010 it is the concept of ‘live and let live’ has been utterly trashed.

    I don’t care a fig about golf (my bad back won’t allow me to do it properly) but I do care that we have cultivated a society where people can have a strong objection to it just because they can’t think of anything else to object to.

  4. Demographically, 1945-1964 was a unit. Sociologically … not so much. Coming of age in 1982 was not at all the same as coming of age in 1963!

    But, that trivial quibble aside, your point’s well taken.

    I believe one reason your explanation isn’t getting more media play is that it’s one more reminder to the 1945-1955 cohort of Boomers that they’re getting OLD, which is something that they’ve been uninterested in hearing for the past two decades, and will continue to be uninterested in hearing until they reach utter inanition.

    A related phenomenon is that, even though we are living in the year 2015, and are having problems in America that are profoundly different from the ones we had in 1965, all Serious Political Discussions about issues such as race are being carried on as if it were still 1963, and we hadn’t had five decades of life after both the Civil Rights Act and 1965’s changes in immigration law. That particular cognitive arrest is causing no end of stupid public debate and stupider political decisions.

    • Erich, I completely agree on the vast difference in perspective between those born in 1950 and 1960. A teenage in the late sixties lived in a different country than those in the mid-to-late 70’s. The 80’s, of course, were even more different. I saw PJ O’Rourke out humping his latest book and he was making the claim that “his generation” included those born in the mid-60’s, which is ridiculous.

  5. Amazing how none of the big sci fi writers ever figured out that the problem would be depopulation, not over population.

    Samuel Delany called what you are describing “cultural fugue,” but like most, he figured we’d get to the stars before the information overload became great enough to cause it. Writers who imagined galactic empires in the next 1,000 years could hardly come up with something vaguely as powerful as a smartphone (and that usually only a terminal, not a network node with real computing power) in a million.

  6. Mass Media is a recent phenomenon but is interesting to note that has been controlled by the same people that (supposedly) wrote the Bible, who makes the narrative that we live by?

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