Does anyone remember Mr. Roberts? I remembered a lot but checked Wikipedia to refresh my memory. The play, based on a collection of stories by the same name, written by Thomas Heggen and adapted by Heggen and Joshua Logan, won a Tony in 1948, starring Henry Fonda. Mr. Roberts was quartermaster of a naval supply ship during WWII, working back and forth between Tedium and Lethargy. with a crew out of its collective mind with boredom. Mr. Roberts kept applying for active service on a warship and when he finally got his change of duty and ship, was killed in a kamikaze attack while sitting in the mess having a cup of coffee. HIs best friend, the doctor on the supply ship, received news of his death and didn't tell the crew. They were so far steeped in boredom that the news would have supplied only a moment of trivial respite from their torpor.
I think that's what's happened to the mass psyche. I am not on Facebook but I get messages from friends and the news when something goes viral: whales caught in ice, a monkey in a shearling coat caught in a store desperately seeking its owner, a flash dance staged in Pushkin Square -- all momentary trivia that catch the mass attention. Frightening, really.