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FIRST-PERSON: Our super obsession with entertainment

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–Addiction is an ugly reality.

The drug addict will do anything to score a fix of his or her substance of choice. Those hooked on alcohol even will ingest mouthwash in order to get drunk.

Gambling addicts will wager a bet on anything and everything -– even the exact time of a sunset.

Degradation knows no limits for those addicted to sex. Even the risk of debilitating and deadly sexually transmitted diseases is not a deterrent.

Those who observe an addiction have no trouble seeing its ugliness. However, addicts are immune to the truth of their reality. The focus for the addict is the next fix, the next drink, the next bet, the next rendezvous….

What is most sad about addicts is that they are in a constant state of denial. No matter who tries to point out the problem, the addict refuses to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation.

America’s addiction to entertainment is never more on display than during Super Bowl Sunday. On this day, a game becomes the most prominent fix for a nation that gropes its way from one entertaining experience to another.

Those who study addiction report the addictive experience. Addiction:

— creates predicable, reliable sensations.

— becomes the primary focus and absorbs attention.

— temporarily eradicates pain and other negative sensations.

— provides an artificial sense of self-worth, power, control, security, intimacy and accomplishment.

— exacerbates problems and feelings it seeks to remedy.

— worsens functioning and creates a loss of relationship.

When the above symptoms are applied to America’s pursuit of entertainment -– and Super Bowl Sunday -– it is easy to see that we are indeed a nation addicted to the pursuit of amusement.

The key difference between individual addiction and the collective addiction that characterizes America’s entertainment obsession is that relationships are not necessarily lost.

One of the key elements of societal addiction is that it is a shared experience. No one realizes the addiction –- or will admit to it — because most everyone is involved.

On Super Bowl Sunday -– what has been dubbed the nation’s biggest “unofficial” holiday — 146 million-plus Americans are expected to tune into the “ultimate” football game.

Many of those who will view the game do not know a quarterback sack from a quarterback sneak, but they nevertheless have the date circled on their calendar. They will gather at parties to eat, drink, be merry and “watch” the game.

They will critique the commercials (which cost $2.4 million per 30-second spot), gamble (some seriously and some just to be social) and generally share the Super Bowl “experience.”

No one, it seems, is immune from Super Bowl fever. While the number of Americans who attend church on Sunday evenings has been in decline for decades, the number will fall to an abysmal low on Super Sunday. Many of the faithful will skip worship in order to bow before the altar of entertainment the Super Bowl represents.

The nation will bask in the afterglow of the Super Bowl experience the Monday following the “ultimate” game. Some experts estimate that American companies will experience an $821 million loss in worker productivity due to people distracted by discussions of the game, the halftime show and the commercials.

When approached with moderation and some sense of perspective, entertainment and the Super Bowl are not necessarily negative. However, when it comes to the pursuit of amusement in general and the “ultimate” football game in specific, American society is unrestrained.

It is difficult to dispute America’s addiction to entertainment. One reason for the obsession with amusement is the collective loss and understanding of purpose.

In a culture void of a sense of purpose, experience becomes the key to meaning. Thus, drifting from one entertaining experience to another becomes the satisfaction or fix, if you will, for a society that is absent of any clear sense of purpose.

The Super Bowl represents this week’s “ultimate” entertainment fix.

Preceding the 1972 Super Bowl, a reporter asked Dallas Cowboy running back Duane Thomas how it felt to be playing in the “ultimate” football game. Thomas replied, “If it is the ultimate game, how come they are going to play it next year?”

Addiction, even addiction to entertainment, is ugly — except to those who are addicted.

    About the Author

  • Kelly Boggs