Perspective

Virtual Neighborhoods

“‘I am half sick of shadows,’ said The Lady of Shalott.”

“We’ve turned into a nation of TV watchers, video-game players, and virtual sex addicts,” observed the cheerful old cynic.

“How is that so different,” asked the resentful 30-something adolescent, “from earlier generations that spent all their time reading poetry and fiction or going to the theater?  Even now, all you seem to do is read books, most of them not even in English.  Talk about a fantasy world!”

If America’s perpetual adolescents were able to read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, they would have some insight into their world.  Bradbury depicts a society devoted to a bovine contentedness they call happiness.  To render such happiness universal, the government has found it necessary to incinerate all the books that stimulate the mind and irritate the imagination.  When Montag, one of the book-burning firemen, begins to wonder if he has missed out on something, his superior reassures him,

If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one.  Better yet, give him none . . . If the Government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it . ....

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