What is this world coming to?

People have wondered this ever since there have been newspapers and certainly television, the Internet, music videos and the like have shown us how badly others behave. Parents wondered what the world was coming to in the 1950s, for instance, when a young man named Elvis Presley swiveled his pelvis while he sang.

These days, it's ordinary people who'll do outrageous things, not for great riches but just to win a few dollars or grab a fleeting moment of recognition.

Take the six-year-old girl in Texas (or rather, her mother, who put her up to it) who wanted ever so badly to win tickets to a concert by Hannah Montana. She's a television character, a cute blonde who plays an ordinary teenager by day and a rock star at night. The six-year-old won the tickets by writing an essay that began, "My daddy died this year in Iraq."

It was touching, but a total lie. The girl's mother admitted that she helped her daughter make up the story just to win the tickets, which were taken away when the truth came out.

What's the world coming to? some viewers are asking, when horribly obese people humiliate themselves on television, supposedly to lose weight but really to win cash. Or when others allow themselves to be hooked to lie detectors, then answer the most intimate and embarrassing questions in order to win bigger and bigger prizes?

What's the world coming to when middle-aged men and women, many with respectable jobs, paint their whole bodies in their favorite team's colors, then go berserk for the camera at football games?

Have all these people no shame in the quest, not for the classic 15 minutes of fame, but five seconds of face time on camera? Apparently not. Who or what's to blame? Ever-lower media standards? Rampant permissiveness in society? Greed? Or a simple reflection of what the world is coming to?