The dumbing down of society continues unabated. We live in a world where irredeemable pap like The Black Eyed Peas' The Time (Dirty Bit) tops the charts, where Peaches Geldof not only has a career but is paid to appear on telly and, like, talk about stuff, and stuff.
We live in a world where people make gameshows about squeezing through funny-shaped holes or repeatedly falling in water. These programmes are watched by millions more people than compelling, mature dramas like Mad Men and Rubicon. To quote professional sourface Charlton Brooker: the idiots are winning.
If we could pinpoint a single moment when the entire world descended into this sinkhole of stupidity, it would be the release of Angry Birds. This is a game that has apparently been downloaded over 100 million times. To put it into context, that's as many records as The Who or Metallica or Deep Purple have ever sold.
Recently, Eurogamer contributor Simon Parkin Tweeted the profoundly depressing fact that "every 30 days, humanity spends the same amount of time playing Angry Birds as it took to build Wikipedia to date". 200 million minutes a day.
That's 200 million minutes a day playing a random, frustrating puzzle game with a fundamentally broken control scheme, a baffling score structure and no reward system to speak of. The world has officially gone mental. The idiots, I repeat, are winning.
That's not to say I don't understand why Angry Birds has bewitched so many. As much as I hate the game - and I really, truly despise it - it's easy to see why it might appeal.
For starters, we're hardwired to enjoy the sight of things falling down. I'd be massively distrustful of anyone who watches footage of buildings being demolished and doesn't think something along the lines of, "That's pretty awesome."
It's easier and more fun to destroy than to create. Angry Birds' ostensibly simple physics puzzles play on that mentality for all they're worth, setting up what outwardly look like fairly delicate, flimsy structures for you and your furious feathered friends to destroy.
It helps that your enemy is so detestable. Those pigs are genuinely hateful swine, nicking your flock's eggs seemingly without rhyme or reason and smugly smirking when you don't quite manage to destroy them.
They're spectacularly amoral, not once mourning their fallen friends, seemingly non-plussed by the fact that their piggy chums have just been turned into mincemeat. If they survive, they smile and snort out a little chuckle. You have failed.
And, of course, you will fail. Time and time again. Not because the game is cruel but scrupulously fair - like, for example, Demon's Souls - but because it is designed to make you fail. It is a game cynically constructed to frustrate you just enough so that you'll keep trying to defeat the pigs.
And when you do? Well, there are more and more levels to attempt, because Rovio keeps adding new themed stages for you to download. The pigs just keep coming. Think about that: you're fighting a battle you can never truly win.
It doesn't help that you're hardly in a position to succeed in the first place, so heavily are the odds weighted towards your porcine foes. The structures they inhabit are invariably nowhere near as feeble as they initially seem, all but requiring you to fire your birds at the pixel-wide weak point that will send them walls a-tumblin'.
And that's before you get to the buggers with the granite headwear. You could, I suppose, admit the game is fairly realistic in that respect - catapult a bird at a sheet of ice or a slab of concrete at high speed and it's not hard to guess which is going to come off worse.
All of which would be fine, except it's impossible to determine that perfect shot. Getting it right is simply a matter of perseverance and educated guesswork: you plug away and plug away until all the pigs are destroyed and you can move on.
With no way of knowing the trajectory or power of your last shot, you poke lazily and impotently at the screen, trying to locate the exact point of release the game requires you to find.
It's like being asked to hit a bullseye in darts, only the dart is replaced by a cocktail sausage with a pin in the end, the oche is 50 feet away from the board, the board is made from blancmange and you have to throw with your feet. In the dark. In a wind tunnel. On Mars.
But the rewards for completing such a Sisyphean task are worth the effort, right? Not a chance. You get a few half-hearted whoops from the remaining birds, a silly little jingle plays, and you're given a grade between one and three stars.
Yet the scoring system seems to be governed by an arcane set of rules which probably not even the developer can entirely fathom. Wipe out all pigs with a couple of perfectly-aimed launches and you might get a piffling single star. Bludgeon your way through with a flukey final fling that somehow dislodges that tiny piece of wood above the one remaining pig? Three stars.
I've played stages over and over, trying to figure out exactly how it works, and the scientific conclusion I finally arrived at is this: the game simply makes it up.
So, it's random. Random games can be fun. But most games with a hefty element of luck at their core at least attempt to deflect the player's attention away from the fact.
Take Popcap's equally moreish Peggle, for example. It has a far superior setup to Angry Birds, at least affording you the illusion of fine control to guide your shot, even if its eventual trajectory is nigh-on impossible to predict.
But even if it didn't, it'd still have the slo-mo zoom on that final peg, the thunderous drum roll, those fireworks and that stirring rendition of Beethoven's Ode To Joy to celebrate successful completion of a level.
Angry Birds has none of that. There are no audiovisual pyrotechnics, no fanfares, just a shrug and an arbitrary score and you're back to the level select screen. "You won?" it says. "Meh. Keep playing, sucker."
It's not as if its visual identity is particularly strong. The birds themselves have become icons simply through ubiquity; they're not characters, just units of ammunition of different shapes and colours who happen to share a similarly narked-off expression.
Otherwise you're playing an entirely ordinary Flash game, the kind of throwaway nonsense you would usually waste ten minutes of your lunch break on and then completely forget you'd ever played.
It's barely even a game, more a modern executive toy to give your thumbs something to do when you're feeling particularly bored and feeble and bleh. Because there's barely any skill involved, there's no satisfaction to repeating the same mundane actions.
Plus, the wildly uneven difficulty level ensures you never feel like you're improving. Periodically Rovio will chuck in the odd ludicrously easy level in an attempt to throw the player a bone, but that just makes you feel like you're being patronised.
But what annoys me most about Angry Birds is that it's consistently held up as a shining beacon of quality game design, apparently for no other reason than the fact that it's popular. This fact is wheeled out every time anyone tries to say something nice about it.
Just about the only quality you could reasonably attribute to Angry Birds is that somehow, despite everything, it compels people to play on. Rovio has blundered upon that secret formula, the magical tipping point that has you teetering on the brink of throwing your iWhatsit across the room but bringing you back from the edge every time.
That it's addictive is almost undoubtable. But then crystal meth is addictive, yet no-one's falling over themselves to garland it with Drug of the Year awards.
It's understandable that most iOS developers are looking to create the next Angry Birds. People have to put food on the table, and a franchise that permeates the mainstream consciousness to the extent the Prime Minister has declared himself a fan (really, if there's a better argument not to play a game than the fact that beady-eyed berk likes it, I've not seen one) is obviously a desirable target to aim for.
But it's impossible not to worry that it's going to inspire a whole generation of bedroom coders to simply try to copy the formula, creating an ill-advised metaphor of copycat games that have a contemptuous attitude towards their players, keeping them just frustrated enough not to switch off and play something else instead.
I'd much rather developers were looking to make the new Trainyard, the new Drop 7, the new Solipskier - though Tiny Wings creator Andreas Illiger is kind of already there with that last one - rather than face an impossibly bleak future of Angry Birds clones.
Let's have games that reward and respect their users without cynically trying to squeeze more money out of them. Games that can stand up to repeat plays without the crutch of sporadically released copy-pasted extra stages masquerading as fresh 'themed' content. Games that don't actively endeavour to prevent half their players from reaching the end.
Oh yes. If you're struggling to beat a stage on Angry Birds, you can always - for a small fee, of course - resort to cheating.
Rovio's Peter Vesterbacka spoke proudly at GDC of the fact that 40 per cent of Angry Birds players had purchased the Mighty Eagle feature. This is essentially a smart bomb that instantly clears the level you're stuck on. Vesterbacka said he hoped to increase that total to 50 per cent.
In summary: a game-maker wants his game to be so frustrating that half its users are forced to pay for a cheat code so they can progress. The prosecution rests. If you're playing Angry Birds right now - and the law of averages suggests you probably are, because you're 1500 words in and starting to flag and ooh look they've just released those new Rio levels - then please, please stop.
Go outside. Phone your parents. Wash the car. Kick the dog. Do something, anything other than playing this stupid, miserable, cynical game which has somehow managed to enslave you and the rest of the inhabitants of Planet Apple. You might just thank me for it later.