Are We Losing Our Cultural Touchstones?

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In this fragmented digital age, Americans no longer unite around TV shows as they did when Seinfeld was in its prime. As NPR's Laura Sydell explains, "more than 40 percent of American households saw the final episode of Seinfeld in the spring of 1998." It used to be that even those who didn't watch the show would hear about it. But now Seinfeld is gone, and its replacement--in terms of numbers--American Idol only garners 16% of American households as an audience, even for a season finale. Sydell's question:

New technologies have given us access to countless channels for music, television and film -- and we can sample them whenever we find it convenient. But as the options multiply, are we losing our sense of a common culture?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.