Illustrated timeline of anti-fun moral panics


I’d say the one about computer programmers is pretty much spot on.


I’m surprised it stops at the Internet…where is the spike for smartphones?

Talk about socially divisive tech: for those who have one…it’s requisite for daily life. But since certain uses can lead to oblivious actions on the part of the user…it becomes especially annoying to those that go without.


I agree. Weizenbaum’s statement is often true. Just look at the recent story in Wired about the guy who spent months of time and thousands of dollars playing Clash of Clans. Some people can really get sucked in.

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Sousa was spot-on about the phonograph, too. I surely wouldn’t go so far as to say it wasn’t a net good, but it did drastically cut down on the number of talented amateur musicians. You used to be able to get a kickass folk band going with pretty much any gathering of ten people, because that was the only way you were going to hear music being played; now you usually have to pick your people ahead of time. And recorded music, right up to the MP3, has dulled our ability to hear the subtleties of live music that the format doesn’t transmit well, and changed the kinds of music that gets produced. (See David Byrne’s “How Music Works” for a lot more on that.)

Progress isn’t a bad thing, but there’s nothing wrong with contemplating what’s lost when we progress.


Is that story about people fleeing from footage of a locomotive actually true? I can’t imagine what it must have been like to see a moving picture for the very first time, but I have a hard time believing any people actually thought a locomotive was going to leap out of the screen and run them over. It’s not like the War of the Worlds broadcast where some people were fooled by a lack of context; surely these people had some idea of what they were about to witness.


Or people not spending time learning an instrument that they might be bad at just because they’d like to hear some music being played and have no other resource for hearing it are now freed up to do other things that they might be better at and might contribute to other forms of arts and entertainment (or they could just spend that creative effort creating popup ads on the internet, but it’s all about possibilities…).

I love music but have no sense of rhythm. You don’t want me in your folk band. But I could design you a decent album cover if you need one…


How can you have this without video games? They’ve been a moral panic for at least the past 20 years.

Oh, and gawd save us, RAP MUSIC shriek.


Oh, you mean “murder simulators?” Video games are as detrimental to physical and psychological health as womens’ suffrage is to the family unit and society as a whole - which is to say, not detrimental at all…


Spot on! Put that one squarely in the net benefit column. I mean, how else am I supposed to practice murder?

I didn’t mean to say that ten out of ten people could play an instrument; just that any given social gathering probably contained at least one decent trio. I think people without musical aptitude were still allowed to do other things.

That’s a thing that we’ve lost, which is a bit sad. (I’m lucky, in that one of my social circles is thronging with folk musicians, but I think that’s rare.) Recorded music is still a net good, as I said, but net goods involve some losses.

(It’s all the holes.)


I don’t duck when a locomotive comes at me on the movie screen, but I do feel my stomach drop to my feet when a helicopter flies over a cliff on-screen.

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What, no quoting Socrates quoting the pharaoh Thamus on how writing will destroy men’s memories?

For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.

Plat. Phaedrus 275a-275b


In fact, writing has destroyed memory. Who but a few people with an interest in the art ever learn the ars memoria? Recorded music has changed our sense of live music: we now expect flawlessness rather than improvisation. Thoreau was right: no one has much to say over the telegraph, or indeed, the internet. Has mass media such as radio and television led to the death of conversation? Maybe not death, but it’s moribund in many houses. How many people sit around the TV for hours, never conversing? Information technology does have an effect on our cognition. To pretend it doesn’t is as bad as imagining that the sky is falling with every new technology.


pets? BB guns onbirds and rabbits? decapitating your sister’s barbie dolls?
isn’t that how all the disturbed kids get started? :slight_smile:

The one for the internet should be YAKAWOW

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You’re confusing the symptom for the illness.

Video games don’t make people play video games to excess. Mental illness makes people play video games to excess. If you got rid of video games, those same people would play other games, or read escapist literature, or spend their time daydreaming or roleplaying, or engage in any of countless other ways of fueling their addictions.

Video games don’t suck people in. Sick people cling to video games. They’re unhappy in other aspects of their life, so they sink themselves into the nearest convenient relief. You don’t blame a rock when a madman picks it up and kills someone with it: you blame the madness.


See, these days video games provide a much-needed mid-point between that sort of thing and actually getting your MBA and getting down to business. Marvelous age we live in, just marvelous.

The obvious one you missed is Martial Arts, I mean, come on, the name literally means “Ways To Make War”. :smile:

But don’t forget wholesome sports like football! Nothing says peace and soundness of mind like playing a game where 300+ pound men run full tilt into each other, forcing each other to the ground, fighting each other over possession of a small object - a game so absolutely insanely brutal that you need to wear helmets and body armor to play it, and where broken bones and concussions are accepted as regular occurances even despite the armor.

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Ha! true, but…

most ex football players are just used car salesmen not serial killers…unless you know something i don’t know. the only murder they did was their own brain cells.

And martial arts teaches not to use force when you don’t have to and gives people an outlet to vent those frustrations.

no, if you really want to train in the craft you have to do some creepy stuff…like wear black nail polish…hahaha…i kid.

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