Mark Helprin discusses the decline of serious political discourse in America in his excellent book Digital Barbarism. Earlier generations were more patient, “primed to deliberate rather than merely to react.” He summarizes his argument by comparing Emily Dickinson and Paris Hilton.
That is not to say that all Americans were models of dignity and concentration, but by and large they were quite different from what we are now. … Rather than a massive comparison, suffice it to say that although today not everyone is like Paris Hilton, and in the nineteenth century not everyone was like Emily Dickinson, each of these is far more characteristic of her age than would be the other, and that this is self-evident along with all it implies.
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