By Luther Cenci

For hundreds of years, forms of entertainment have remained largely static. People steadfastly relied on books, drama, live music and oral tradition to soften the grind of their daily labors.

However, with the advent of new technology, choices for entertainment have exploded across a variety of platforms. The modern consumer can select between videogames, movies, television, Internet video, Internet comedy, instant music downloads, animated features as well as the traditional entertainment options.

This New Entertainment is one of the last bastions of global American dominance: our movies, music and cultural values show up in the farthest reaches of the world (much to the dismay of the idealistic American tourist in search of “authenticity”). However, the changes in entertainment run a chance of undercutting our society’s foundations.

The most obvious shift in entertainment lies in length of content. Books, classical dramatic productions and live music presentations can last for weeks, days, or hours. In comparison, new entertainment media such as Facebook posts, YouTube shorts, and iTunes singles only occupy the consumer for minutes at a time.

Adult commentators have decried the content-level shifts, such as videogame violence, in culture which have accompanied the shift. However, the forms of culture, the means by which a society builds opinions, are considerably more threatened by modern media.

By shortening the duration of content, entertainment producers limit the amount of critical thought which accompanies the consumption of their work. The average American will spend far less time thinking about the new Bruno Mars single than a full-length novel, not necessarily due to any fundamental intellectual difference, but  because “Just The Way You Are” is only 3 minutes and 40 seconds long.

Since new media requires a substantially less impactful investment of time, less thought goes into choosing a specific entertainment unit, and the consumer does not feel all that cheated if it fails to entertain. Media companies have turned this into record-breaking profits, as the quality of their product is split away from the quantity of sales.

By reducing critical thought, new entertainment media reduces the individual to a powerless consumer. In a country where the people have the power of choice over government, anything that reduces the individuality of choice threatens the nation. So, entertainment consumers be warned, think about what you are watching. It could protect your mind and your wallet.