As I was listening to Jewel’s “Adrian,” it occurred to me how much our songs and movies allow us to have accelerated vicarious experiences. Adrian allows somebody to experience caring for a person on life support… while her Painters gives us an insight into a life partnership of the highest order… and countless other songs and stories become more than just entertainment: They become part of our shared experience.
My first real girlfriend, Danielle, and I used to laugh at how we got along so well because we had watched the same cartoons. Those cartoons gaves us a sense of shared outlook on the world. Similarly, songs and movies (and even cartoons of today) give us a shared language and outlook on the world.
I wonder whether part of our growth as a civilisation has been due to the positive impact of these stories and experiences. Not just to allow us to relate better to each other, but to allow us to learn more and faster from each other – and from people that we have never met. Perhaps, taking this one step further, the increased speed of transfer of this information possible through recorded music and movies allows our modern society to learn and grow even faster than previous generations due to the decreased richness of the experience of reading books.
Or maybe we’re just lazier.