No Longer A Listener:
Tales and advice from beyond the fringes of media slavery.
I was plopped in front of the TV at an early age. To my mother, it’s warm glow was a welcomed pacifier for a crying, nagging, somewhat ugly child. To me it meant The Cookie Monster, Big Bird, lots of pretty, shiny things and a respite from what would become my despised, life-long enemies. Boredom and angst. Through no fault of their own and with every possible consideration given to my siblings and I, my parents became such in a most unusual time. And as well-meaning as they were, inadvertently passed along to my brother, my sister and I, an appreciation for news and world events and other ‘things’ media related. I speak to this in less than glowing terms mostly because it didn’t simply end with an appreciation. Like most households, ours was one that held an axiomatic belief that what we were so keen on watching and listening to was genuine, was to be trusted, held to a standard of integrity, and took multiple sides of an argument into account when presenting an item. Of course. Who encourages a 4 year-old to ingest their media with a grain of salt? What mother teaches her son or daughter that the news is full of shit and has always been? But, increasingly, there seems to be little other conclusion that can drawn from our now-defunct media.
My parents and most people, thought the TV was a window to the world. I am only learning now, at this late hour, how sadly mistaken we were and how duped we all have been by the media in all its forms. Insofar as that window has ever been open, it is currently slammed shut and the only light that enters is so ensconced with pandering, patronizing and propagandistic elements as to render it useless. Useless in the sense that it offers any information that one can use to make judgements and decisions about their lives at home and especially events abroad. Entertaining as hell, I’m the first to admit that. But of utterly no consequence as a tool to navigate the current climate, political or otherwise, in relation to any reality. Quite the opposite. More often than not, mainstream media serves as a disinformation agent, directing our attention away from any topic of importance and especially away from events that might run perpendicular to the media’s interests (of which they are nearly incalculable). In that respect, many claim that we are actually better informed by having never watched an item at all. No information is always better than wrong information, a proclamation that is debatable. Debatable because many seek to glean a converse narrative where by clandestine agendas are speculated from the mainstream media and news headlines. The causes are many and run deep, but with the Pandora’s box of the internet being opened, the trickle of non-mainstream information has of late become a torrent that will eventually lead to a rude awakening for many, but has been known to few for some time and is in many ways in danger of being destroyed.
As much as I would like this effort to reflect my own experiences, I realize that mine are only part of an amalgam that make up how the collective consciousness views media in its totality. Also, my views are always in jeopardy of not truly being divorced from my own personal biases, an issue which will no doubt become a tricky tight rope on which to balance as I move forward. No matter, I’ll do my best and if at times I come across as a blow-hard know-it-all, I don’t know what to tell you. The important thing is that I give the reader an opportunity to dip his or her toe into a realization that has become more or less a part of my personal constitution of late, a realization and an awakening to the fact that media in many ways has become reality itself. All of our wants, goals and desires may not necessarily be our own, but to a large and increasing degree, a creation of this monopolistic, elusive creature known nebulously as ‘The Media’.
Truly, an anxiety inducing thought to even entertain. And in that anxiety lies precisely why it is so easy to turn away from examining the evidence even if it is presented in a rational, detailed manner. Because even a small dose of thought on the matter could completely undermine almost every one of our most cherished beliefs, ones that have become our identity, whose absence would leave such a gaping hole in our world view, that we would be reduced to a helpless, rudderless mass not knowing if we were coming or going. That is patently false. A healthy mind reexamines and a courageous intellect does not shy away from information that proves uncomfortable for the shallow purpose of preserving one’s ideological preconceptions and one’s precious and fragile fundamental cognitive orientation. Nay, a courageous intellect embraces the vast potential for intellectual change no matter the result. A torturous truth on the worst day is preferable to the most comfortable lie on the best day.
Beyond attempting to explain how the media influences our day to day, another main goal is to illustrate and describe the methods and processes by which the main-stream media exercises its near-total authority in engineering the American and global zeitgeist. Some of these methods include message repetition, inflating an issue’s importance in the news by cherry-picking examples and distracting and deflecting attention away from issues of worth-while importance and towards issues that are of little value. These are just a sample of the implements included in the toolbox of the modern-day media propagandist aka public relations agent aka publicist, aka advertising agent, important tools used in the application of his/her slimy trade. Along with their media comrades, the Madison Avenue advertising junta that has spent the last 100 years and hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars attempting to sell us the American Dream, continues to inundate the public with more fairytales. Truly that, childish dreams that attempt to bait the entire world.
However glib and sarcastic this work may at times seem in its attempt to be entertaining, it’s final message shouldn’t fall short in its severity. Andrew Jackson and others involved in the development of our nation warned us specifically of what is happening before our very eyes. They warned that a true democracy can only exist if the masses are in possession of quality, unbiased information from which they are able to make quality decisions. This is a version of advertising and journalism pioneer Walter Lippman’s idea of “informed consumers making rational decisions”. In short, a democracy cannot function if the masses who are entrusted to make its decisions are given shoddy and down-right manipulative information.
It is the contention of this work that we are in fact, uninformed consumers making irrational decisions and are currently kept in the dark by our media, made to feel terrified by our media and led in directions by our media based on their ever-comingling interests, agendas and whims. It is the contention of this work that we do not live in a democracy. Not in the least. The ability to vote (in theory) does not a democracy make. True, free information is the oil whose lubrication enables a healthy democracy but that is not the situation we find ourselves in today. Today, our media is not free at all. Freedom of press means freedom from any concentrated source of power, not just the state.
And in 2017 our media has amalgamated itself into a handful of corporate interests working hand in glove to keep the American citizenry dumb, docile and obedient consumers. In short, we do not live in a democracy but rather a plutocracy where corporations own and create everything we ingest media related and funnel us into camps where we can be better watched, catered, patronized and propagandized to. And in the same way they sell us a bar of soap, conspire to sell us a pre-selected candidate or two for whom to vote every four years in a cartoonish farce known as the American election. And over the last fore-mentioned hundred years, they have scientifically perfected those principles and methods of advertising and propaganda to an extent that could have hardly been believed by the Nazi forefathers by whom many of these ideas were copied. That’s right, the NAZI’s.
From this I hope to achieve the goal in instilling a sense of skepticism in the reader. By no means take mine or anybody’s word for anything, simply be open to the possibility that the loudest voices out there may not have your best interests at heart. Not even your worst interests. Truth should never be determined by concensus, especially one created by the media. Instead of spending a lifetime to realize it, don’t take it for granted that everything the media tells you is true. Or at the very least, take it with less a grain, but an enormous boulder of salt.