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The Death of the Hero

  • "Common instinct for reality has always held the world to be essentially a theatre for heroism" (William James)
  • The generation that grew up after the advent of cable news television has had a fundamentally different kind of exposure to world news.
  • Previous generations were fed radio or television news at a specific time of the evening, and shared that event with the entire nation.
  • The entire nation was exposed to the same range of emotions.
  • Not surprisingly, the response to a world event was relatively uniform across the entire nation.
  • The fact that the news was limited to a narrow time window increased its emotional impact.
  • As McLuhan said, the media created the message.
  • Because the news were delivered in this fashion, they facilitated the emergence of heroic figures.
  • In the age of 24-hour live news, instead, that uniform collective response has been lost forever.
  • People have absorbed the news at different times in different ways.
  • The Internet has further diluted the emotional impact, as people can get the news when they want (not only when the media delivers them).
  • Inevitably, becoming a national hero has become a lot more difficult.
Proof-edited by Alexander Altaras