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George Will, Baseball, and Cognitive Dissonance

I've just started reading Everything Bad Is Good for You by Steven Johnson, and one of the quotations Johnson uses to start off the book, from George Will, is hilarious and head-scratching all at the same time:

Ours is an age besotted with graphic entertainments. And in an increasingly infantilized society, whose moral philosophy is reducible to a celebration of "choice," adults are decreasingly distinguishable from children in their absorption in entertainments and the kind of entertainments they are absorbed in -- video games, computer games, hand-held games, movies on their computers and so on. This is progress: more sophisticated delivery of stupidity.
This is from a June 2001 column by Will, "Reality television: oxymoron".

What makes this, as I said, simultaneously hilarious and head-scratching is that Will is well-known as a huge fan of baseball, having written two books on the subject. Does he realize the cognitive dissonance from which he's suffering? Somehow it's "stupidity" to actively work one's way through a video game, but it's enriching (I assume he would say so) to passively watch men hit a ball around a grassy field?

Though I'm a football fan, I'm well aware of how mindless sports spectatorship is. I enjoy watching NFL games on Sunday afternoons, both in person and on television, but I know that doing so is anything but enriching -- it's entertaining, diversionary, and nothing more. Video games are interactive and so are, by any conceivable measure, more beneficial than watching any sport I can think of -- and one doesn't need to read Everything Bad Is Good for You to see the truth of that.


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