Panem et circenses? ....not really!
The thought came as a realization the first time I went to watch a hockey game with my kids; I wasn't sure of my exact pathway of thinking at the time, but then I understood the meaning when later I went to a couple of basketball games with no relation whatsoever with the first hockey game. The actual insight is very simple when you have time to think about it... but that is, of course, something that never happens, I believe related with the main conundrum: no time to think about it, every single second filled with information or distraction. This is particualrly interesting in a basketball. Pauses are very short and there is no time to almost anything between segments of the game. No matter how short, several things happen simultaneously involving cheer leaders or a band playing or some raffle or something else. The idea is actually spooky, no time to think when there is a pause!
Now, broaden this to some other leisure activities, it is easy to notice (if you have time to pause) that modern americans are driven to spend their time without to have any pauses in their lives. For instance, television now has got remote control for swapping channels or can show simultaneously two channels in the screen. Cable or satellite can show any kind of programs 24 hours a day as a solid stream of information. Take for example an average american news broadcast. The signal will have a main screen with a permanent main history, a written transcription of the spoken script and an additionally endless text with the highlights of other news, overdose of stimuli. And for the computer realm, many people browse the internet while they are listening their mp3 players and texting with their mobile phones... again endless solid stream of information, no time for a pause.
And this obsesive compulsion is also introduced as a very tender age: it is fairly normal that school children are scheduled to have "activities" after (and sometimes) before school; on top of the activities, they have to do their homework and get up early every morning, usually before 6 am.
So why is that? the conspiration model would suggest that invisible thinking forces are behind the phenomenon for controlling purposes (sort of X-file approach) but there are good reasons to disregard such posibility:
In the first place knowledge and information are not really hidden but rather highly exposed, so everybody get a taste of it in a permanent overdose, what is the point of that? the "hidden" forces are not actually hidden and controling does not fulfill any reason since there is no secret! ....unless it is the "Purloined Letter", which would be exposed for the very few that hypothetically the hidden forces need to control!
In the second place, a "black & white" scenario with naive goodies and baddies with intentional strong will seems to be an oversimplification. There seems to be a vast amount of gullible people, but not clear people with real power but rather blind systems that are self-organized. This structure is a clear consequence of complexity and the synergy of the systems, which is probably the product of the dissipative structure that comes from the chaos of a blind society... oh well, this seems to be plausible; in fact the belief of "somebody" trying to control is like believing in God... who would bother to control us? who would bother to create us?
I think the truth is actually even more scary: we are affraid of true spare time because we are afraid of truly think on ourselves and truly look back to us. We are affraid of the madness that comes when a man is able to position himself in his true circunstance in the space-time continuum... i.e. with no God or control, left to our own freewill to take control of our lives in the context of being a grain of sand in the middle of tidal forces.