When did we start needing constant entertainment?

imageAs a kid, I loved rollercoasters. I recently went to an amusement park that I frequented in my youth. I felt the familiar twinge of excitement as we got in line for the newer, faster, and scarier rides. I remember standing in those lines many years ago, but something was different. Thirty years ago we waited in line and talked to friends. Today there are monitors posted to entertain patrons as they wait in line. As I looked around at the others in line, hardly anyone was talking. Faces were either looking up at the monitor or cast downward at a phone screen.

I found myself thinking about this as I was recently pumping gas and staring at the monitor on the pump that was playing clips from The Tonight Show. What if I hadn’t gotten gas? I could’ve missed it! Not to worry, there are entertainment monitors over the coffee at 7-11, and TV’s in the orthodontist office, dentist, and car wash lobby.

So I ask: When did our culture become one that needs constant entertainment?

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