I can well believe that the situation for most professionals is as you state it. But I'm not worried about them. I'm worried much more about the kids who are going to take over from us one of these days. Sure, a few discover that medicine or engineering isn't just another difficult way to earn a living, but find one of these to be a profession. How do we make that more of the rule than the exception?
From the little I've seen of India from one trip of 2 weeks, and from several Indian graduate students I've had from years ago, that seems to be a society that places a lot of emphasis on education. But then, India provides its young 'uns with 350 million graphic examples of what a lack of skills will get you. Drive in or out of New Delhi some time, and see dire poverty for miles on end. I suspect that this isn't lost on Indian parents or their children. One of these days the world's largest democracy may teach us a lesson or two in the US.
Bill, Who is Lady Gaga? Just kidding! Sometimes I wish I had some extra minutes to indulge in celebrity gossip. Between work, kids, spouse, the dog and the overgrown lawn, I scarcely have enough time for a late evening nap -- before mopping up the day's work with some emails and phone calls.
Really, we can make too much of what we see as over-consumption of celebrity gossip, etc., but overall we should cut ourselves some slack. Most of us work too hard and too long to not spend some leisure time getting entertained by the rich and famous.
Plus the numbers don't really back up the assumption that's what we spend most of our time doing. Check out how many people actually watched the VMA compared with how many people are online each day seeking ways to improve their professional and personal lives. Drive through any major global city early in the morning and see the rush hour traffic heading for work -- we don't rush to celebrity events nearly one-tenth of the time.
Most EE Times readers probably know Lady Gaga only by name and a major percentage of them must wonder why the world is "gaga" about her! We get entertained by the celebrity world--even those of us who are inclined to ignore them are faintly amused by their world--then we head back to work because that's where the money for the things we need most come from.
It is not just in celebrity, but sports as well. By the time any child is at the age of ten they will want to be a famous athlete/musician/actor because that is what is presented as glamorous. Back in the day when football players had to sell cars or insurance in the off-season this was not the case. We need to institute the STEM model throughout K-12 in this country and promote the fact that jobs that actually contribute something to society are more glamorous than jobs that merely serve to entertain.
Fair point, but you've got to accept that the laissez-faire attitude is not leading us to a sustainable future. When a Football (Soccer) player earns in a week what a University Professor or Senior Engineer earns in a year, you've got to start asking yourself serious questions about our value system. That said, I think the system will eventually re-adjust by itself when the consequences of the status quo start to be seriously felt by everybody.
Check out the series, "The Secret Life of Machines". The guy is a genius. He builds a sewing machine using real people and ropes to illustrate; cuts home oil heaters in half, illustrates the fax machine with semaphores from one hill to another while walking over a grid... my kids, all three, were fascinated.
I am reminded of Parkinson's Law of Bandwidth Absorption: “Network traffic expands to fill the available bandwidth."
20 years ago, we didn't have the internet's vast array of content -- gold, garbage and everything in between. And 10 years before that, we didn't even have cable TV channels -- just 3 TV networks, maybe an independent station or 2, and a major newspaper or two.
The explosive growth in bandwidth over the years it what gives us the luxury of having choices like watching Lady Gaga win awards at the VMA vs. watching MythBusters, or Animal Planet.
Our culture and our options for enjoying our free time are richer for having those Lady Gagas and other celebs, including sports stars -- just as we are richer for having Nova explain the wonders of the cosmos, or having Animal Planet educate a child about an animal species with which he or she is unfamiliar.
It is easy to forget that before the bandwidth explosion, we had very few choices...for either gold or for garbage.
Yup, disconnect the broadcast and cable port into your home. You aren't required to know anything about the life crises of overpaid neurotics (I am referring to entertainers now, not politicians) and there's plenty of great stuff at Netflix. (My 13 year old daughter just announced that "The Lord of the Rings" was great. Good. I have Rin Tin Tin in the offing for them, too.) I have two teenagers, they get minimal social life-support from iTuneless, but the only things that can appear on the HDTV are movies that my wife or I buy. The internet itself goes on for the kids at 10 AM, and off at 9 PM. The Wii isn't connected to the internet. If they don't want to go outside or talk to their friends (since I limit the Farcebook since it's mostly idle gossip) they can always read a book. There are plenty of those around the house.
Does this sound draconian? Too bad for my kids. A parent's duty is to nurture and guide their ferrets, er, I mean kids.
As far as my own watching TV, I just don't have the time to waste worrying about the next episode of Seinfeld. Oh, it's off the air? When? So what?
We are certainly immersed in a swamp of self-important entertainment garbage. But, no one makes us participate. You can opt out.