Talk show mentality a worrisome future

In America today the so-called "Republican Revolution" if their budget ever passes is threatening to sell off millions of acres of land in Alaska to produce oil, to cut student financial aid and to send millions of children (who can't even vote) into poverty. Yet as I walk by the President's Lounge in the Student Union, the TV is permanently set to Carnie Wilson, "A Current Affair," "General Hospital," and on occasion, a highly intellectual game show. Amazing.

Amazing, but not surprising, since more students now just care about getting a degree to obtain a job which pays well instead of studying what they would really like to learn. But perhaps this is because a majority of students who choose degrees for the wrong reasons are the same ones who get their daily news brief from "Hard Copy." In fact, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't sit near a group of people who have nothing more intelligent to talk about than how wasted they were, are or are going to be this evening, or about the party they went to recently, or even about that pesky little annoyance of Mom and Dad's check coming in too late. No, I'm not surprised at all just worried.

Not that these issues aren't important, mind you. In fact, I'm sure they are, in some cosmic realm of superficiality. They probably rank up there with issues such as where to scrape up enough cash to get the new "Beavis and Butt-head" book, or "Dude, do you think this matches my shoes?"

But if you are one of those people and you're wondering why and how these issues would ever raise a worry-flag from people like me, well, let's just say I think there's a better way for America to progress not regress.

In America today, Christian Right fundamentalism is spreading across our country quicker than Ricki Lake became number one in daytime talk shows, the relations between different cultural groups are worsening each day, the gap between the rich and the poor is widening at an alarming rate (America already has the largest gap in the world between the two) and people still abuse the environment by not recycling (probably the same people who helped Ricki Lake get to the top).

While all of this is happening, the media is making hundreds of millions off the uneducated and ignorant, and politicians are still spewing incoherent rhetoric about how they're helping us (of course, they still demand to be allowed to accept all-expense-paid vacation gifts for so-called "charity golf benefits" while trying to send millions of children into poverty).

Moreover, you're probably spending your precious free time sitting around and thinking that all of these issues are someone else's problem or that someone else will take care of it, but that "someone else" is usually thinking the same thing. So, while you sit there watching Richard Bey and learning about "John" and how he slept with all of his girlfriend's relatives, think for one moment about all that time you wasted which you could have spent reading a book, or heaven forbid a newspaper. Then think about all the things you could have learned other than successfully chugging a beer.

For instance, after reading a newspaper, you might have discovered how our government recently shut down, or perhaps that in Nigeria last weekend, a famous environmentalist and author was condemned to death by hanging after being falsely accused of murder by the Nigerian government, when actually he was hanged for speaking out against the government. Then you might have read something about the assassination of the prime minister of Israel (I was actually asked by someone last week who Yitzhak Rabin was). If you're one of the people who didn't know about two of the three events listed, then maybe it's time to re-evaluate why you're even in college.

However, don't be too upset, because there is still some hope for you. Here are a few suggestions.

Stop formulating your opinions solely on news clips from "A Current Affair," "Hard Copy," and prime time news shows on NBC, CBS and ABC (prime time news is very misleading and very biased).

Stop taking social tips from gaudy television characters on shows like "Melrose Place," "Central Park West," etc.

Start reading newspapers and magazines which actually don't have CD ads and credit card applications.

And finally, if you go to class, you might actually learn something. At least I know Mom and Dad would be happy knowing their money is being well spent.

I would like to add this: when you start being a leader and leave the rest of the sheep behind, you might discover that it feels good to make decisions based on your own opinions. Then, you can start being a part of America and helping to figure out new ways in which to make our beautiful country a better place to live, rather than subscribing to the ideas of Rush and Newt, which won't get us anywhere.

Dan Will Martin is an interdisciplinary studies sophomore.

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