Letter: Depressed? Blame media overload

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The Independent Online
Sir: In his examination of current high levels of depression and dissatisfaction ("The blue Nineties", 11 February), Oliver James overlooks the single most glaring social difference between the 1950s and today.

The huge media explosion over the past forty years means that all of us, from infancy onwards, receive a considerable input about the world and other human beings from data already processed by other minds.

Compared with even recent history, when news, anecdote, opinion, advice and wisdom were passed from person to person, face to face, by word of mouth (with books as direct verbal communication from absent individuals), we now live in a virtually real fantasy world - that of the electronic media, advertising, film, and the tabloid press.

It is hardly surprising that against this daily and constant bombardment of images and sounds we should somehow feel that our personal and human status has been reduced.

It is conceivable that on evolutionary principles we may adapt to this comparatively recent change in our environment (after several thousand years of non-media development), but on a conservative estimate it will take about ten thousand years for a fully fledged, and happy, Media Man to evolve.

IAN FLINTOFF

London SW6

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