Guest Post: Those Who Don't Build Must Burn

Tyler Durden's picture

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Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Our society has become addicted to Media. We are obsessed and compulsive. And like a crack addict, we will do anything we must in order to maintain our illusionary world beginning with deep doses of denial and bargaining. Anything and everything will be handed to the dealer for another run at the high we get from our daily media hit.

According to a new ICMPA study, most college students are not just unwilling, but functionally unable to be without their media links to the world.


“I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening,” said one student in the study.  “I feel like most people these days are in a similar situation, for between having a Blackberry, a laptop, a television, and an iPod, people have become unable to shed their media skin.”


suteibu's picture

The concept of the "grass is greener" taken to the extreme.  People are no longer enamored - some are not the least bit interested - in their physical surroundings.  Electronics allows them exposure to worlds like a daydream, friends they would never have had, and heriocs that are not available in the physical world. 

Pool Shark's picture

It's no longer enough to live out our sporting dreams vicariously through professional athletes (bread and circuses); we now need 'fantasy' sports leagues; a substitute for a substitute....

Apophis's picture

"All that was once directly lived has become mere representation."

DeBord, The Society of the Spectacle

VK's picture

What about reading on the interwebs? Surely that counts!? Lots of people might not read books but the web is chock full of interesting sites!

tmosley's picture

My thoughts exactly.  I probably read and digest at least two novel's worth of information online per day, and do so purely for my own education (with the interest of making money, of course).  

I enjoy playing games, but I learn a great deal about the past through them.  I've been an avide fan of Sid Meyers for decades, and as a result, I probably know more about history than most scholars in the field.  Same goes for economics.  Similar (though not as extreme) for several of the sciences.  I'm sure there are plenty of people who are just seeking meaningless stimulation, but hey, we can't all be Franklins or Da Vincis.

Xedus129's picture

I doubt he is.  When I was younger I memorized all the battlefields and battle locations of WWII from BF1942.  When I took Modern History I knew every damn thing on the test (without studying).

Hicham's picture

Seriously? I hope you're joking too. Knowledge of history is a hell of a lot more than memorizing battle locations. I've played BF1942, and that game does NOT teach history in any meaningful way. The only reason memorizing dates and locations allows you to ace the test is because history has been dumbed down pathetically to make it more interesting.

In 2 weeks I'm supposed to write a quiz (worth 5%) for a 3rd year university course on the "Origins of the Modern Middle East", a quiz based solely on naming countries, rivers, and capital cities. Definitely going to drop this crap...

wisefool's picture

Civ is awesome. But it is not the best way to understand history. Lord Keynesian is a "Great  Person" who spawns in the game, yet you CAN NOT use deficit spending to run your empire.

Sid Meier is brilliant but biased like that!



Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I'm not "just" talking about reading books. I'm talking about everything and anything that is accessible via electronic media. TV, radio, computer, iPod whatever. Many people have gotten to the point where they must have a constant distraction, even if that means reading a physical book.

The concept of being "alone" is positively frightening to them. Take it away and they begin to have withdrawal symptoms within a hour or two. Quiet self reflection and contemplation for a hour or two (and let's not even talk about meditation) is nearly unheard of.

I know of two people who are literally addicted to TV. Put them in front of a TV and they can't leave it for a second. They eyes glaze over and their mouths go slack. Both of these people, one male, one female, have wet themselves because they didn't want to leave the TV. Their spouses have removed all TVs (and now computers because of TV video streaming) from their houses in order to have some kind of relationship.

What do you call this?

cougar_w's picture

I've seen the same thing. And with kids today, it's those hand-held video games. It's creepy.

I think it is the monkey brain. My analogy is how the monkeys stay to watch the jaguar eat one of their kin. They cannot pull their eyes away. Maybe it's fascination with processes. Or with novelty. Or fear of missing some learning experience that might be useful later.

While it somehow served our ape predecessors, it is now our weakness; we cannot look away. Combined with so many things to look at  (both terrible and beautiful) we become trapped within our own eyes.

wake the roach's picture

Not only is mans nature dualistic, but so are the technologies and artistic mediums we create that are extensions of ourselves. I personally do not worry, as long as there have been "firemen" there have been "firekeepers"... Its all just a means to an end, and a rebirth... Most important to us here on ZH is of course, the economics of energy exchange in a world of diminishing and declining net energy returns... The information zombies have an important role, as  they have always had throughout history...  They can be shaped by both natures and it is our role to learn from "forbidden knowledge" so we can shape a future that is progressive... My 2 cents anyway haha... 

e_goldstein's picture

sadly, you are mistaken.

on the bright side, he did predict the currency collapse in "Galapagos."

Bob's picture

Unfortunately, Player Piano seems to have been his most prescient work.  I recently read Jailbird, however, and it revived my belief in the relevance of the novel.  A darkly comedic masterpiece of literary innovation and human compassion. 

I think the notion that movies cannot begin to match the power, intellectual or otherwise, of books is misguided, however.  Most books are pulp garbage. On the other hand, look at The Matrix or our own beloved Fight Club as just a couple of thousands of thought-provoking and enlarging works that inspire critical thinking for many milions of people.  Let's not oversimplify the analysis.

I gotta admit, though, that I found some of those stats especially horrifying:  Percentage of Americans who can name The Three Stooges – 59%!

Jesus H--I had no idea things were getting that bad!  Even thirty years ago, everybody knew those guys.



Rusty_Shackleford's picture

Thank you for that.  I figured it would be out there somewhere.


In keeping with the mythos of this site, I'd like to offer up this particular blurb from Tyler Durden's wellspring:


Big Brother isn’t watching.  He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s busy holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure you’re always distracted. He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed.”  - Chuck Palahniuk




Milestones's picture

Cog Dis, You seem to have an affection for Bradbury. Just finished re reading his book fron 57 " Dandelion Wine". If you have not, do your self a favor. Take you back to some years I think you know about--I remember knowing about them.  Milestones

Bartanist's picture

That is a very frightening thought, given that we have been prepared by the mainstream media and government to expect that one day it will simply be turned off for one of the reasons given:

- sunspots killing the satellites

- homeland security, to protect us from terrorists

The president already gave himself the power via executive order.

We have been warned and the media and all of our accumulated knowledge are being held hostage to our obedience.

I have often wondered if, after creating that dependency, people will be so disoriented having it taken away, that they will surrender the last of their rights willingly and become slaves in name as well as in financial obligation, as we are today.

suteibu's picture

Bradbury was definitely prescient.  One of the all-time best short novels ever.  This is a great post.  Kudos.

duo's picture

I'm going to have to search old bookstores for the "unedited" (and therefore offensive) version.  Before the mid-60's, I would guess.

aerojet's picture

I'm pretty sure all printings are the same, you should not have to find an original. 


That article is so much bullshit--we have never had better access to information than we do now.  Adult illiteracy per capita was much higher in 1950 than it is now, and we have a much more diverse society with diverse interests and goals.  Not every problem is a result of anti-intellectualism.  I would argue that so many choices have caused dissonance.'s picture

I'm pretty sure all printings are the same, you should not have to find an original. 

That article is so much bullshit--we have never had better access to information than we do now. 

You had access to information in the article which would have helped you save face had you bothered to actually read it:

In the ultimate irony, Bradbury found out in 2003 that over the years editors from Ballantine had censored 75 separate sections of his novel, fearful that it would contaminate the minds of our young.


ArmchairRevolutionary's picture

It is possible he read it, but was just not able to comprehend it.

MonkeyMan's picture

Anyone know if you can get this on DVD?

1100-TACTICAL-12's picture

brains of mush...indeed.

Racer's picture

I was watching a programme about US children and food. The children are so Corporationised that they can't recognise vegetables and will agree to eat disgusting food when they are shown what foul mush it is... they just don't know any better!

duo's picture

At Costco the other day I was standing next to a pallet of dried apple slices.  $13 for about 8 ounces in a box of 1 oz "servings".   "Who eats this crap?", I thought.

About every minute someone (usually a woman) grabbed a box and put it in her cart.  There's a good chance these "apples" came from China.  I didn't look on the box, but most of our apple juice and garlic come from China.  How healthy can that be?

tmosley's picture

I know, right?  Anything grown in China is unhealthy.  They are the source of all our problems. 

In fact, if you even touch anything from China, you should b sent to some sort of camp where you can be cleaned and re-educated so you can get rid of the contamination.'s picture

duo, oh man, i got my 'hood market. damn the finest garlic grown right now in the fall, just a couple of miles away. damn best garlic on earth. planting and selling done by a fine fine salt of the earth soul. her husband helps her a little with planting harvest. oh yeah, apples all varieties grown right around the corner, it is a beautiful thing these farmers keeping their land and growing and not selling out to the developers. bless their hearts.

WaterWings's picture

f.u.c.k OFF

W E know you are a W A T C H E R

BLESS your heart's picture

W E know you are a W A T C H E R

what's a watcher?

SDRII's picture

Can someone please explain the acquisition tear of STD  now rumored to be buying MTB stake? Last week it was Poland, months ago Citi loans. IS this the ultimate bad bank or is this to lock access to all the key central banks when the sovereign implodes?

Comrade de Chaos's picture

My fav book when I was a teenager. It was rather a warning against self - censorship and comfort of compliance :)

Internet Tough Guy's picture

Those who don't want to read a book can watch a movie. I recommend George Lucas THX 1138 from 1971.It is about some people who live in a sealed-off climate-controlled environment, are on a compulsory regimen of psychoactive drugs, are assigned their mates by a computer program, and watch pornography that is piped into their living rooms in order to relax after work. When they refuse to take their meds, they are abused by robot-like police armed with electric cattle-prods. When one of them escapes into the wilderness, it turns out that the police lack the budget to hunt him down.

Try to find a part that differs from reality, it isn't easy.

cougar_w's picture

Nice catch. Yes "THX1138" is creepy because it is already us.

suteibu's picture

Add "Logan's Run" for a look at solving the aging problems of the developed world.'s picture

And Conquest of the Planet of the Apes for those need a little inspiration in saying, "No!"

Bolweevil's picture

OT whomever did the soundtracks for that series is revolutionary. "Damn fithy apes." lol

Henry Chinaski's picture

This is way too long.  I am going to google the youtube that covers this info and hope it has a good soundtrack.

A similar article came out in August on the Mises Daily...

just sayin



DavidPierre's picture

SMOKEY QUINN is up to all sorts of tricks ... cut and paste... plagiarism... obscene racism posted under his various AKA's...etc.




Smokey Quinn has a strong preference for sheep.'s picture

Wonderful essay.

In the ultimate irony, Bradbury found out in 2003 that over the years editors from Ballantine had censored 75 separate sections of his novel, fearful that it would contaminate the minds of our young.

I've recently been thinking about buying a copy of 451, but how do I know if I'm getting the real deal?

SpeakerFTD's picture

Nice article.  I actually happened to re-read 451 myself about a month ago.  You are exactly right that age makes a huge difference.  It was nothing like I remembered it, and I was dumbfounded that it so accurately foretold our manner of living. 


Strongly recommended for the minority of us that still like our ideas on paper.

RockyRacoon's picture

Bradbury is mistakenly called a science fiction writer when he should be called a science fantasy, or just fantasy, writer.   His book  The Illustrated Man is without doubt one of the best of the fantasy genre.

Dollar Bill Hiccup's picture

Dick. As in Phillip K. As far as Sci Fi goes ...