(I wrote this was informed that Dan had also posted at the same time, and along similar lines, sorry for the redundancy.)
Carlin's criticisms were rarely directed at individuals. They were usually at a nameless, faceless "them." "Them, they, people," he would always say. The ignorance and short-sightedness of the masses was what infuriated him most, and it's what always infuriates me as well.
To a certain extent, I agree with Carlin. The American consumer culture has painted itself into a corner. We crave and we consume, and the more we consume, the more we want. Just look at the cell phone advertisements. "Ruling the Air?" Give me a break. We have become a culture obsessed with how fast we can download a song or a game to a mobile device.
There has always been a natural progression of technology and information transferal. Cuneiform, papyrus and linen scrolls, vellum, bound books, mass-produced bound books by means of printing presses and industry, then paperbacks and now the devices that can carry multiple volumes at once. And I'm okay with that. I still prefer a bound book to a device, but I can do both. But this sudden urge and obsession to have the whole world and all our caprices in a pocket-sized device does not strike me as part of the natural order.
The more people I talk to, the more people I meet who have a hard time thinking analytically or for the long term. Less people can pronounce the names of foreign cities. Half of the people I see on my university campus seem to represent the lowest common denominator of people who do nothing but complain about inconveniences and issues of no consequence.
I don't buy into the fact that man is basically good at the core. Good is a very broad and vague term. Human beings are naturally selfish, we act in our own self interest.
What elevates us above the animals is that BY CHOICE we are capable of silencing our impulses and deferring to the wants and needs of others at the expense of what we want.
Without any sort of discipline, children retain the selfish nature of their infancy, I see it every day at the karate school where I teach, in kids, teens and adults. What worries me is that there has been a definite breakdown of discipline.
I don't take the easy route and blame "liberal pinko hippie ideology" for some change in the way kids are taught to behave. I attribute it back to my original point about the whole of society. America is a consumer culture, and in our quest to have it all with as little work as possible, the kids of today are givings us a preview of tomorrow's culture. Adults want it easy, they let their kids have it easy. I agree with Carlin that we are circling the drain, because I firmly believe, sad though it may be, that people who are aware of what's going on around them, like the fellowship of people on this forum, are the minority.
Things that separate us from the lower animals: walking and hats.
- George Carlin