The Roots of Apathy and
How Schools Can Reduce Apathy
Part One: The Roots of Apathy
Why is apathy, another term for passivity, submissiveness, and even numbness, reaching epidemic proportions when it comes to social, economic, environmental, and political issues? Symptoms include lack of awareness, concern, social responsibility and action, which includes voting. This is particularly apparent for those in the 18 to 24 age group.
Among the factors that cause apathy is our society's orientation toward entertainment. We have become a nation of observers watching with increasing enthusiasm as the sensationalism of the show intensifies. Presidential debates have even become an integral part of the entertainment industry. If there are no fireworks, no Jerry Springer type show, then their ratings fall way down.
How can we take politics seriously, when opposing candidates, like actors, are trained to perform in a certain way in order to appeal to the voters? Each has been prepared by their campaign experts with a bulwark of information. The debaters are trained to use that information to portray themselves in the most compelling manner possible in front of the television cameras. The audience seems to base its judgment on the clichés, slogans, and bloopers. Like an aspiring Hollywood actor or actress, charisma appears to be the final determinant as to who is the victor.
Since television networks depend upon advertisers for profit, the debates must cover a wide range of topics in a relatively short period of time. The television networks realize that the general public is not interested, nor does it have the patience, to listen to thorough, in depth discussion, like those of the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 on slavery. In addition, we are bombarded by short, rapid fire, political ads. These are cleverly created to appeal instantaneously to our emotions, not necessarily to our reasoning. Therefore, it can be deduced that the television medium impacts...