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Zeitgeist Essay

2611 words - 10 pages

Zeitgeist

Its acquaintance is inevitable so good luck at trying to escape from
it. Zeitgeist is the spirit of the age, as the dictionary defines it
to be, but in my own terms it is the paranoia or 'scream' of a given
epoch. For instance, the international fads like high-speed Internet,
diminutive cell phones that miraculously slide and fit comfortably in
your jean pocket, and convenient photo-taking digital cameras reflect
the zeitgeist of many developed countries of the past decade. We see
these items all over place on expressway billboards and during the
two-minute commercial breaks that disrupt whatever televised program
happens to be on the screen. We even see them in the millions of ads
slammed into magazines. But this is just a single side of zeitgeist.
Yes, this two-faced creature is better known for the drama and fear it
infects a nation with. For example, in the recently released
documentary, Bowling for Columbine, creator Michael Moore remembers in
a small scene how the local news introduced the "killer bee" panic
attack across the country in 1990. Moore was reflecting the issue on
how the news is constantly trying to make the people of the nation
terrified. In the end, the killer bees never made their expected
appearance. Zeitgeist is indeed the ghost of a time that haunts the
entire population. However, it has been recognized in various ways. In
the following paragraphs, I shall describe four different zeitgeist
identifications as well as my own.

In the introduction of The Snarling Citizen by essayist Barbara
Ehrenreich, she characterizes zeitgeist in solid form. "Our
contemporary zeitgeist is a low, snarly creature that oozes out from
the TV and settles lumplike in the middle of the den, where it pulses
lethargically and makes an occasional lunge for the dog." (150)
Through this illustration, she identifies the spirit as this
terrorizing and treacherous living thing emerging from an item that
can be found in households everywhere. By this blob inhabiting our
carpeted floors, families absorb all of media's controversies and hot
tittle-tattles - presidential sex scandals, suburban gangs, the deadly
disease that is going to infect you next, and everything else that
will make you run upstairs and lock the door. Enrenreich also informs
us that the blob can no longer be stopped for it is everywhere and far
out of reach to be confined. "Then, for the first time in human
history, hundreds of millions of individual minds were wired together
in a single teleneurological system, inhabiting a self-contained
universe of image and jingle and slogan." (151) It's unfortunately
true. We function in life based on what we have learned from the
media. For example, before the arrival of the new millennium, from one
news reporter to the next, word about Y2K's computer bug and the
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