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The State of the Culture, 2024: A Glimpse into Post-Entertainment Society

(The Resilience Reducing Addiction in Your Hand – In Your Face – In Your Head!)

Great article – we encourage you to read the following excerpt and visit the author’s blog for the complete piece.

…This raises the obvious question. How can demand for new entertainment shrink? What can possibly replace it?

But something will replace it. It’s already starting to happen.

Here’s a better model of the cultural food chain in the year 2024…The fastest growing sector of the culture economy is distraction. Or call it scrolling or swiping or wasting time or whatever you want. But it’s not art or entertainment, just ceaseless activity.

The key is that each stimulus only lasts a few seconds, and must be repeated.

It’s a huge business, and will soon be larger than arts and entertainment combined. Everything is getting turned into TikTok—an aptly named platform for a business based on stimuli that must be repeated after only a few ticks of the clock.

The tech platforms aren’t like the Medici in Florence, or those other rich patrons of the arts. They don’t want to find the next Michelangelo or Mozart. They want to create a world of junkies—because they will be the dealers.

Addiction is the goal.

They don’t say it openly, but they don’t need to. Just look at what they do.

Everything is designed to lock users into an addictive cycle.

  • The platforms are all shifting to scrolling and reeling interfaces where stimuli optimize the dopamine doom loop.
  • Anything that might persuade you to leave the platform—a news story, or any outside link—is brutally punished by their algorithms. It might liberate you from your dependent junkie status, and that can’t be allowed.
  • But wait, there’s more! Apple, Facebook, and others are now telling you to put on their virtual reality headsets—where you are swallowed up by the stimuli, like those tiny fish in my food chain charts. You’re invited to live as a passive recipient of make-believe experiences, like a pod slave in The Matrix.
The State of the Culture, 2024 A glimpse into post-entertainment society

The tech CEOs know this is harmful, but they do it anyway. A whistleblower released internal documents showing how Instagram use leads to depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Mark Zuckerberg was told all the disturbing details.

He doesn’t care. The CEOs all know the score. The more their tech gets used, the worse all the psychic metrics get.

But still, they push aggressively forward—they don’t want to lose market share to the other dopamine cartel members. And with a special focus on children. They figured out what every junk peddler already knows: It’s more profitable to get users locked in while they’re young.

And the virtual reality headsets raise even more issues—because they rewire users’ brains. Experts are already talking about “simulator sickness,” and that’s just the physical nausea, dizziness, and headaches. Imagine the psychic dislocations.

Even the dumbest entertainment looks like Shakespeare compared to dopamine culture. You don’t need Hamlet, a photo of a hamburger will suffice. Or a video of somebody twerking, or a pet looking goofy.

Instead of movies, users get served up an endless sequence of 15-second videos. Instead of symphonies, listeners hear bite-sized melodies, usually accompanied by one of these tiny videos—just enough for a dopamine hit, and no more.

This is the new culture. And its most striking feature is the absence of Culture (with a capital C) or even mindless entertainment—both get replaced by compulsive activity.

The State of the Culture, 2024 A glimpse into post-entertainment society

Everything is gamified. Anything can be scrollable. You can simulate any boat you row.

But what does this do to our brains? To our lives? To the future?

Here’s where the science gets really ugly. The more addicts rely on these stimuli, the less pleasure they receive. At a certain point, this cycle creates anhedonia—the complete absence of enjoyment in an experience supposedly pursued for pleasure.

That seems like a paradox.

How can pursuing pleasure lead to less pleasure? But that’s how our brains are wired (perhaps as a protective mechanism). At a certain point, addicts still pursue the stimulus, but more to avoid the pain of dopamine deprivation.

People addicted to painkillers have the same experience. Beyond a certain level, opioid dependence actually makes the pain worse.

What happens when this same experience is delivered to everybody, via their phones? The results are devastating, as expert Dr. Len Lantz explains. Even people who thought they were immune to addictive behavior, get destroyed by the cycle:

There is a specific, abnormal brain activation pattern that is present in people who have anhedonia, which is a key feature of major depression, and absent in those who do not. It is often the case that when patients come to me with major depression, they say, “I shouldn’t be depressed. I have a good life. If my friends or coworkers knew I was depressed, they wouldn’t understand or they would be mad at me. They think I have it made. So, why don’t I feel that way?”

We’re now seeing the first effects on a grand social scale of this deadening effect.

Sure, let’s give it a name, something like TikTok depression or Silicon Valley zombification or whatever. The key fact is that users can feel it, even if they don’t have a label or a diagnosis. They feel it even if the technocrats refuse to tell them about it. Just listen to the words people use to describe their toxic online interactions: doomscrolling, trolling, doxxing, gaslighting, etc.

In the year 2024, this is what we do for fun.

But it doesn’t bring happiness. The World Happiness Report surveyed 150,000 people in 26 countries, and found that the US and other prosperous, technologically advanced societies are suffering a massive happiness decline. This is what happens when anhedonia is on sale every week—and the pervasive tech platforms increasingly resemble the ruthless corporations that got rich from opioid abuse.

Some companies get people hooked with pills and needles. Others with apps and algorithms. But either way, it’s just churning out junkies

(Taken from and for complete article – The State of Culture 2024 © by Ted Gioia –The Honest Broker)

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