One of the problems with the shortness of the human life span is that we tend to be isolated in a relatively brief span of time.
I'm an American. Thus, the history of my country is short, compared to England's, or France's. It is, however, much longer than the few tens of years during which I've been basically aware of my political and cultural surroundings. I can read histories, but they tend to be organized around extraordinary events and the themes that historians find significant. I'm left to wonder: were we always so childish?
What I mean is: we insist on an inordinate amount of entertainment. We display very little willingness to delay the gratification of our desires for pleasures and material comforts. We demand "news" of such vital matters as athletes and entertainers -- particularly the ones who are caught up in spectacularly-scandalous degradation, such as the (maybe) pederast Michael Jackson or the (perhaps) gallery of pharmacologically-enhanced baseball players. We all know what "March madness" means. We finance our huge and poly-teated government by borrowing astronomical sums from foreign moneylenders, in large part to pay for the bombs, missiles, and bullets with which we shower other foreigners. We elect walking, breathing caricatures such as Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwartzenegger, and G. W. Bush to be our "leaders." (Do free people desire to be "led?") We spend ever-greater sums of debased money on "education," ever more reliably making illiterate, innumerate, politically-indoctrinated consumers of our children.
Were we always this way? And, if not, what changed?
My conjectures: no, and television was invented. But, of course, I could be mistaken about both.