I find my thoughts turn today to the fluctuation of the universe.
What I mean by this is that the world is always changing. Societies rise and fall, good and evil take turns in domination, and an ice age gets replaced with sweltering heat.
What brings this to mind is a documentary I just watched on TV. It was a two hour show about a certain Ada Lovelace who nearly brought about the computer revolution in the 1800s, but due to various circumstances this didn’t happen until about a hundred years later.
The subject was interesting enough, but the execution left something to be desired. Honestly, I believe the documentary could easily have been shortened to a half-hour program if it followed the same style of educational film used in, say, the seventies.
It was full of fancy animations, staged dialogue in elaborate but irrelevant places, and ludicrous gimmicks done as filler for its lack of content. It was infested with clickbait-esque questions that were only answered several minutes later, after another fancy animation and dramatic music. You could get up to make popcorn for five minutes and come back and you wouldn’t have missed much.
Unfortunately, this documentary is not abnormal for modern times. I used to watch documentaries all the time, but now? Not so much. They’re not worth my time, though my thirst for knowledge is still insatiable.
Perhaps a good example of my point is this: watching documentaries now, as opposed to those made in, say, the 50s-80s, is like reading Macbeth as opposed to Horton Hears a Who.
The documentaries of the old days were straight to the point. It would introduce the subject, demonstrate visually only what pertained to said subject, and pointed the camera at experts who would lecture on the subject. There was music, but it wasn’t too dramatic. There were animations, sometimes, (depending on how old it was), but they were simple and not distracting. The people interviewed weren’t placed in fancy locations or told to turn around dramatically before talking, nor were there shifts in camera angle every two sentences.
In short, they were purely educational.
Funny how that is, isn’t it? We’ve gone from challenging the intellect of the general populace for society’s benefit to catering to the naivety of that same populace, whose attention span is now shorter than it takes you to blink.
In my ponderings on this subject I came across this quote from Wikipedia:
Devolution, de-evolution, or backward evolution is the notion that species can revert into more “primitive” forms over time.
On this thought, I now propose a new word, devilution, which is the devolution of society and people individually as brought on and influenced by the Devil.
Because if God encourages us to seek and gain knowledge, then the encouragement or slip into laziness toward the opposite must be Satan’s whispers.
But as I said, the universe fluctuates. Maybe in a few years, a decade or two, documentaries will again be filled with knowledge, and gimmicks and dramatic music will be retained mostly for movies.
But of course, this change can only come if society desires it. So if you prefer drama and fancy animations to vastly outnumber the knowledge it surrounds, fine. But your attention span will be as short as the blink of your eye.
If, however, you would rather spend your two TV hours learning something new and interesting, packed with as much knowledge as can fluently be portrayed in that time, then it is up to you to make the difference. It can be something as individual as researching something so hard it makes your brain hurt, or it can be something as big as being the producer of the next documentary. There is a whole spectrum here to work with, and any contribution will be more beneficial than you know.
At the very least, don’t settle for gimmicks and dramatic music, or books that are more illustrations than words.
Change must always come from within, and by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.