So, I'm reading a book by Robert Bly called The Sibling Society, which is not as useful as I thought it would be on the difference between horizontal (peer-based) social expectations vs. vertical (heirarchy-based) social expectations, because Bly keeps interrupting himself to rant about television, movies, video games, and the internet.
All of which, you know, deplete imaginative capacity, because they are passive.
I go online every day, many times--update my journal, do my websites, hang out on a couple of forums, and so on. While I don't think I remember and retain as much of what I read on a computer screen (it's missing sensory input beyond the visual), I certainly don't feel that I'm not interacting with it. I don't play a lot of video games, but I see kids come in every day to play Runescape, and they are very, very definitely not being passive about it. And as to movies and TV... er, Mr. Bly, have you ever been in a fan community?
Yes, it's true that there are a lot of people out there who take movies and TV (and sports and the internet and so on) passively, but that's not the fault of the thing being taken passively. These same folks, as far as I can tell, will also be passive about oral storytelling (Bly's favorite alternative), books, the news, whatever. The problem of apathy isn't caused by television, which has many engaging shows that people interact with. Problematic television (say, anything starring Paris Hilton) isn't a cause of apathetic viewing; it's a result of it. Producers go where the money is, and if everyone behaved the way fandom behaves, you'd have a lot more meaty stuff on there (though I will note that it creates a feedback loop, and takes something extraordinary, like Harry Potter, to break through what's become the industry expectation... and they don't get why HP works, imho).
I am more sociable now than I have been at any point in my life, because I interact in the media available to me, and heaven knows I'm quicker about writing than I am about speaking. And I've never, for one minute in my life, been especially inclined to take a text passively. It's just no fun if you don't dive in and see what's there. That's why I love sf/f--there's always more of the world to discover, and a lot of places to ask, "Why did he do that? What did he mean to accomplish?" But if people aren't doing that, it's not the fault of whatever medium the text happens to appear in. I could take producers to task for lowest-common-denominator, totally literalist programming, in that they're catering to something that's not very good for us, but they're not creating the problem, 'kay? It was pre-existing.
It's too hot to work up a proper rant, I think.