I see it everywhere. Walking through public places, children, teenagers, and even adults are plugged in to iPods. Suddenly, I become suspicious of the term "programming."
Self is a narrative that the brain tells itself to create a coherent experience, says my daughter who is majoring in cognitive science. Does that mean that who I am is just the plastic thingy that holds together the six pack? I should be more offended, but I'm just a narrative so I let it slide.
Our culture is becoming more fragmented. In LA County, more than a 100 different languages are spoken in homes. Even people who all speak English talk about things I can't understand - esoteric is the new dialect, as religious, business, technical, and cultural groups all generate a slew of terms and concepts that require nothing less than years of immersion to understand and decode. We're becoming tribes of specialists doomed to feel alienated unless we show an interest in politics or sports or celebrities.
The media, then, becomes the narrative that holds culture together. Suddenly, the programming that is being distributed more incessantly than ever before - through iPods and Internet and TV and radio and magazines and newspapers - makes perfect sense. It feeds our need for cultural cohesion. Programming might shape young minds. Culture might be the default cult for which there is no de-programming. Or it may just be that individual lives need a narrative outside themselves that provides a sense of cohesion. In either case, those iPods seemed inevitable.