Fame is a bee.
It has a song -
It has a sting -
Ah, too, it has a wing. (Dickinson)
I hate to inform you that I live in an America more dominated by mass media than you could ever imagine. Think of people watching boxes with screens that transmitted images constantly.
Think of those boxes as delivering sound with the images.
Think of those boxes telling people what to read, what to listen to, what to buy, how to look...
I mean, you've got a case that you're media dominated too - Thoreau and Emerson are poweful, seductive voices telling people that the Good is easily had, it's just a matter of attitude and belief. They're waging war on religion while fields fill up with blood by those waging war for freedom. - And those waging war aren't doing it b/c it's merely about attitude and belief. -
Where I will suggest to you the media is most dominant and most problematic - because we watch stories on the boxes, because we physically are attracted to what we see and hear - is in our whole notion of love being manufactured and sold to us.
There are plenty of trashy romance novels and stories in your time, but reading forces a hierarchy - if you read one book, you kinda have to admit what is a better book or a worse book. You'll be laughed at in your face if you read Harlequin and claim you know as much as a reader of Plato.
But that hierarchy is gone if you don't have to read. You don't have to better your tastes, or explain to another why your tastes differ.
You can just have your tastes, and be left in peace.
Which sounds great until you realize everyone else is judging you for no reason, and isn't accountable.
It sounds even worse when you realize you've neglected people who genuinely care for you because you have "standards" you couldn't possibly defend.
Ultimately, we love ourselves a bit too much. It's us we're watching on the screen all the time. And I think that's the deep reason why we want fame.
We want to literally be the person we've watched - we have to live that fantasy - because otherwise we can't justify ourselves.
The difference between a culture where we watch images (on the cave's wall?) and a literary culture is the number of voices. The former, there's only one voice at any given time. The latter, there's a dialogue between two at least. Every good reader works to understand what the author is saying by challenging the author. Without knowing it, they're challenging themselves.
Those are just my thoughts - if you can get someone else to update you on 21st c. America, I would be most obliged. I have written with bias purposely, and not represented to you fully the good that is here.
Take care -