Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Mechanized Barbarians

It is impossible to understand the American public without taking into account the tremendous psychological effect of bringing up a generation of people in a daily environment of advertising.  It is impossible to escape the advertising man; his sales talk assaults us in the morning newspaper, in the street car, with billboards along the highways, and in his shameless use of the radio.  This means that from morning till night, in the midst of our work as in our recreation, we live constantly in an atmosphere of intellectual shoddiness.  Every popular prejudice and vulgar conceit is played upon and pandered to in the interests of salesmanship.  Everywhere material interests and herd opinion are strengthened to the loss of personal independence.  The tendency is to think and speak for effect rather than out of one's inner life.  There is a marked decline the ability to play with ideas, or to live the spiritual life for its own sake.  Hence a decline in civilization of interest, humor, and urbanity.  Advertising tends to make mechanized barbarians of us all.

-- Everett Dean Martin (1880 - 1941), American minister, writer, and advocate of adult education, The Conflict of the Individual and the Mass in the Modern World (1932), pp. 29-30

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