Culture vs. Entertainment

One of the main observations I've had since I moved back to the U.S. (from Germany in 2008) is this:

We live in a culturally poor culture.

There are a lot of bombastic experiences to be had here, you can go on a show that's all about "ninja warriors." You can go on national/international television and be lambasted for singing out of tune. You can be 8 years old and be called the next big opera singer.

(Aside: *facepalm*)

That isn't culture, though. It may include expectations, background information about the candidates, music, and an orchestra. But that's not culture.

That's entertainment.

Entertainment value is HOT in the U.S.

Entertainment is what so many people look for constantly. They click, scroll, and swipe their way to the next, most entertaining show, post, or person.

One of the most shocking observations I've ever made was while walking through the neighborhood I used to live in; I went for a walk around 5 pm. And the thing I saw again and again and again and again was that almost every house had people sitting in the living room, watching tv. They weren't watching the news.

A good portion of these people may have been retired, which means they were probably headed off to bed soon. ;)

But a lot of these people had just arrived home from work.

They arrived home and flipped on the television.

Noise, music, updates, the next thing.

All that noise keeps people from thinking about their day. From considering something new, from shaping an idea, from actually having a meaningful conversation with whoever else lives in that house. From picking up the phone and calling someone or gathering things together to go to a club, choir, or social event.

All that noise is entertainment. It can have huge value, however not in the gigantic amounts at which we (yes, me, too) consume it.

Culture requires time, thought, and frequently a monetary investment.

It costs real money to book tickets to see a show and pay for parking; it takes time to plan ahead, make sure you get there on time so you don't become "that person" or people who had to be seated late by the usher.

Joining a choir and attending regular rehearsals requires an adjustment of:

  • weekly routines (for weekly rehearsals)
  • weekend commitments (for rehearsals and performances)
  • freetime - to practice music, plan social time with other singers

And in the end it leads to a greater sense of fulfillment, more and deeper social connections, a larger personal and professional network, as well as better health and well-being. (It's true, you can look it up on the internet.)

So what choice would you make, given the opportunity for a new weekly routine after this horrible pandemic has subsided?

Would you decide to stay home and flip through the channels more?

Or would you decide to go where the people are?

Where you have something in common (music, singing, time together)?

Where the goals are clear - to learn this piece of music?

Where you'll end up with a greater sense of fulfillment, more and deeper social connections, a larger personal and professional network, and even better health and well-being?

It could be anywhere where the people are - a choir, a band, a volunteer group for maintaining green spaces, an after-school program for kids.

Where does your intuition say you'd like to go to see people again?


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