Weapons of Mass Distraction
(1) Description of the pattern
Societal distractions can be naturally occurring or manufactured in such a way as to distract people and subvert their attention away from social and civic issues of concern to something more menial. If properly occupied by such distractions, people can be better controlled and thier attention diverted to issues of unimportance.
(2) Why the pattern is good (i.e. bad)
Cell phones, movies, sports, games, celebrity, Soap Operas, Music, war, holidays, reality TV shows, etc. What do these things have in common? They are all possible to use as Weapons of Mass Distraction. Distractions can be useful and are possibly even necessary for human happiness, however they can also distract people from other goals or areas of interest that could be addressed, most notably political, social, and human rights issues. Any country or entity that employs this tactic is essentially saying that an informed and motivated public is a dangerous thing and a distracted and apathetic public is much preferred.
How it Works
Evidence of mass distraction being used as a technique to pacify the masses is very difficult to find. This is partly because much of it may occur naturally and organically and does not necessarily point to a organized effort on the part of any political party or persons in positions of power. Never-the-less, the outcome is the same: pacification and apathy toward social change, civic engagement, and other possible causes of contention with those in power.
Throughout history one of the more common themes in revolution and uprising in societies is that people who rise up and take action against those in power are not getting what they desire and often are of the opinion that there is an unfair disparity of resources: namely wealth, food, quality of life, land, and pursuit of happiness in its many forms. There is often a tipping point of dissatisfaction with the current system and some precipitating event that sparks action. Usually an extreme disparity of wealth, happiness and comfort is involved and lives are very much at stake.
One way to stop or slow the possibility of growing dissatisfaction in a population is to provide them with enough distractions and entertainment that they have no time or willpower to be dissatisfied enough to do anything about it. A population that places a high enough value on entertainment can effectively be enslaved in their vices, and are in this way pacified from the pursuit of change within a society.