Trivial Pursuit: Why Americans Are Dangerously Ignorant About the World
“Look at the insatiable appetite that Americans have for trivial things—for entertainment, for popular culture, for celebrities, for sports stars, for sporting events, for all forms of entertainment,” Trumpet Daily presenter Stephen Flurry comments in his “Fiddling While Rome Burns” program. As he proves in his program, the average American doesn’t want to face reality.
At a time when thousands of illegal immigrants are surging across the United States’ southern border; race riots are destroying cities like Ferguson; the Ebola virus is spreading across Africa; anti-Semitism is becoming mainstream; Islamic State terrorists are decapitating people; and American troops are once again being sent to Iraq to deal with them, America is becoming increasingly enamored with the superficial.
A look at its entertainment providers show where Americans are spending their time.
In 2005, DirecTV had 15.1 million subscribers. Today it has over 37.8 million subscribers. There is a similar trend with Comcast, which is a tv and Internet provider. In 2002, Comcast had 22 million subscribers; as of 2013, its subscribers had grown to 34 million. In 2002, Netflix offered streaming services and dvd rental to more then 1 million subscribers. In 2007, that number jumped to over 7.5 million subscribers. In 2013, it jumped again to an astounding 44 million “streaming members.” That is an astronomical 486.7 percent growth in subscription rates in only six years. In the 2000 nba playoffs of the Lakers versus Indiana, close to 17.4 million people tuned in. Last year, when Miami played San Antonio, 26.3 million viewed the game. This was the largest audience since the 1998 playoffs, and there are many more tv programs competing for viewers today.
Compare these stats to the number of news watchers in America.
In 1993, when President Bill Clinton gave the State of the Union address, 67 million people tuned in. In 1999, that number dropped to just under 43.5 million. In 2008, the number dropped below 38 million. In 2013, only 33.3 million viewers tuned in. There was a 35 percent decrease from 1993 to 1999. Then, from 1999 to 2013, there was another 23 percent drop in viewership.
What about voter turnout? In 1968, 79 million people cast their vote—that was 91.2 percent of registered voters. Jump ahead to 2000, and the number of registered voters is 110.8 million and only 85.5 percent voted. Twelve years later, 126 million Americans were registered voters, of which, a mere 57.5 percent voted.
In a 2013 study Filter Bubbles, it was determined that only 4 percent of people are “active news customers.” An active news customer was “someone who read at least 10 substantive news articles and two opinion pieces in a three-month period.” If you discard the need for two opinion-based articles consumed, the number of “active news customers” jumped to 14 percent. Both numbers are incredibly low. How hard is it to read one article per week?
Pew Research released a study in 2012 detailing the trends of Americans’ attention to the news from 1991 to 2012. In 1991, 56 percent of people stated they read the newspaper. By 2012, this dropped to 29 percent. Similarly, 54 percent of people said they listened to radio news in 1991; this dropped to 33 percent in 2012.
Growing numbers of Americans are dangerously ignorant about the world around them.
As Stephen Flurry stated on his Trumpet Daily, “You can can see why [destruction] is going to be so sudden for most people, because most people who are just steeped in the cares of this world, they think everything is moving along just right.”
To learn more about the nonchalant approach Americans have concerning the news, watch “Fiddling While Rome Burns.”