Today, one of my students told me about this year’s very low ratings of the NBA finals, also mentioning how the recent Emmy awards plummeted to all-time low viewer numbers, down 14 percent from last year’s ceremony, as well as the Oscar awards earlier this year dropping to an all-time low viewership. They asked me what I think about this general decline in interest among various forms of entertainment and sport.
Our generation lavished in excesses of entertainment and sport more than any other. We placed them up on pedestals, showering their proponents with our utmost attention and respect. However, all such ways of enjoying and fulfilling ourselves are transient, and at a certain point, our interest in them wanes.
This is because human nature is a desire to enjoy, which constantly grows and demands new and different kinds of enjoyments to our previous ones. While all kinds of influences can turn our heads to basketball one minute, and then to film and actors the next minute, and then to another pleasure the minute after that, ad nauseam, at a certain point of our desire’s development, we will find that no matter what anybody tries to attract us with, we will feel disinterested.
It will simply be because our desire has outgrown what previously gave us enjoyment. Similar to a child who outgrows his or her toys, we too will start feeling drives for more mature and meaningful fulfillment—genuine human connection and answers to deeper questions about our life’s ultimate meaning, which will itch away at us more and more.
This year in particular, the coronavirus struck our lives, highlighting our vast interdependence all around the globe, and placing us all into a common global situation. It is as if we found ourselves aboard a new global Titanic, floating in space, without any clue as to where it is taking us or what will happen tomorrow.
As we float along together on this giant planetary ship, nobody really knows where to turn or what to do, so some turn right, others turn left, and we find ourselves in a major global crisis as we polarize more and more.
Therefore, as our desires start outgrowing what previously fulfilled them, and while we increasingly realize our tightening interdependence and interconnectedness worldwide—that we share a common global problem—it is no wonder that the NBA finals, and Emmy and Oscar award shows, have reached record lows in interest.
We are growing up. I am optimistic that we will become more aware of how our human nature operates on us, how it is growing to new heights, and how it starts demanding different and more meaningful kinds of fulfillment. I am also hopeful that we will succeed in providing our more mature needs the fulfillment they seek—to realize our increasing interdependence and interconnectedness positively, and by doing so, feel a much fuller, more expansive and authentic reality to our current one.
If we start navigating through these turbulent seas crashing against our common ship today, seeking how to meaningfully connect above our drives for momentary pleasures, then we can rest assured that our ship will reach a safe shore.
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