American Idle?

Okay, I confess – I have actually watched American Idol – once or twice – for a few minutes, and only this last season as I was curious as to what all the furor was about. Even though I didn’t watch any of the previous seasons, the names of the winners are stuck in my brain from the headlines on Yahoo and our Fox affiliate morning news.

There are aspects that I can even see as mildly entertaining – in an “I’m bored and can’t think of anything else to do right now” sort of way – but I’ve never even considered dialing in to place a vote for a contestant. I guess you could say I don’t “connect” with any of these folks. I know that these shows are springboards for many of these kids to make it in the music biz, but the practical, pragmatic realist in me sees a lot of people wasting a lot of time – and I’m not referring to the contestants!

It’s really amazing – and appalling – that more people can rattle off the names of the American Idol contestants from the last few years than can recall the names of the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and Vice President.

What is this escapist mentality that so permeates our world today? Why do we (and I’m speaking collectively) spend so much time living vicariously through these strangers that we don’t know – and can’t really know – as they sing and dance and cavort across our screens? Does the fascination that we seem to have with these wanna-be stars do anything to enrich our lives, our families, our neighborhoods or our countries?

How much time do we spend in front of that idiot box? What could we be doing for the benefit of our home or family in the time wasted? There is a time and a place – and there are worthwhile programs that stimulate our brains and spur us to do good and noble things – but those are definitely the exception rather than the rule.

I’m so very thankful that the founding fathers of our nation didn’t have to compete with the television and biased media in their day – I don’t think we’d be in as good a shape as we are if they had. As it was, pamphleteers like Thomas Paine and Alexander Hamilton were able to capture the hearts and minds of the citizenry of their day. We have many wonderful bloggers today who are carrying on the pamphleteer legacy, but I fear that as bloggers, we’re mainly preaching to the choir.

Is our collective nation really so shallow that our own lives are slipping swiftly and silently away as we idle away our time watching these idols? I’m quite afraid that generally it is so. So many of my own peer group (40’s) and even that of my parents (60’s) seem to be disconnected from what is going on in the world – on the one hand it sounds like hopelessness – and a feeling that they could not do anything to make a change, but I fear that even worse than that we have become a nation addicted to lethargy and laziness which makes us the real American Idle.

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