This is the media: indifferent to suffering, insensitive to joy.
All of life is reduced to the same common banality.
War, murder and death are all the same, like bottles of beer, with the daily business of life being diminished to a melancholic comedy.
– Max Schumacher (“Network”, 1976) [altered]
Our sense of reality is created by two groups: those who produce media and those who consume it. Audiences are never quite as passive as they’re made out to be. They’re active participants in the upholding of a shared reality, because when they allow lies to go unchallenged, they become complicit in trading reality for falsehood.
– Carina Chocano [altered]
Similar to how the view of a landscape is dependent on a person’s vantage point,
one’s reality is determined by their perception of their surroundings, and altering that perception even a little can reshape their worldview. When such a sleight of mind is implemented across an entire society, one can establish a far-reaching uncertainty about how the world works. What better way to enforce such universal ignorance than through the use of mass media? In a society where people’s view of the world is obtained from behind the glare of a screen, the media has become indispensable to the current
order of things. With news being in overproduction and instantly accessible,
mankind seems to know everything about the last twenty-four hours, but very little about the last twenty years – much less the last twenty decades. This is hardly surprising given that so much of what people “know” is what they see on TV or read in the papers. In this regard, today’s media acts less as a window into any reliable reality than a stage on which journalists, pundits and entertainers perform fictions and scripted narratives.
Due to an endless barrage of misdirection over the last few decades, a sizable part of the world’s population has come to sense the disparity between how uninformed they are and how informed they could be. As a result, the collective mood towards mainstream platforms has become increasingly uniform; it is now considered a somewhat cheerful axiom to distrust the mass media. But hardly anyone takes the extra step of considering what the implications are of this widespread contempt. For the public, most of whom seem happy to endure the continued presence of the very outlets they distrust, it indicates a decline of the general discourse into the realm of theater. For the media, their loss of standing in people’s minds indicates an abdication of their professed role as “watchdog of the public interest” and a forfeiture of their presumed authority to mediate the civil order. On TV and online, the news, like everything else, is presented unapologetically as entertainment – scandal-driven, filled with celebrities and chasing after ratings, forever inclined to answer their critics with the longstanding refrain of, “We’re just giving the people what they want, and we have the receipts to prove it “.
The real world is admittedly a big place, too complex and byzantine for most people to fully comprehend. But instead of courageously striving to attain some understanding of its workings, modern man has allowed himself to be deterred by the prevailing social order, which tells him that he’s not well-equipped to deal with so much subtlety. In order to facilitate his understanding of events, he’s been taught to settle for reconstructing them with a simpler model. In steps the media to act as the prism through which intelligible narratives can be delivered. But this assurance is duplicitous; most of what has traditionally been called “daily news” has actually become inert, consisting of information that gives people something to talk about but doesn’t lead to much meaningful action. Wars, crimes, fires and floods have all become the mundane content of what is called “Today’s News”, served up in soundbites and presented in a sufficiently digestible style to be swallowed. But such a format doesn’t lend itself to thorough exposition; the media summarizes and misrepresents an issue in 20 seconds, then repeats the summary over and over in a 24-hour cycle until a new story pops up. This aversion of holistic narratives is at its most emphatic during times of crisis, like a war or disease outbreak, where the reporting of facts may pacify the public’s desire for information but leaves them in the dark as to what actually happened. As a result, most of today’s “journalism” is just a pantomime of itself, suggesting that nothing more is required of journalists than the reporting of facts – any facts will do. In this sense, all news is
fake news in so far as each media outlet skews the facts to satisfy itself and its consumers. One could even say that embedded within the frame of a news show is a kind of
anti-communication, featuring discourse that abandons logic and sequence of events. Interestingly, we find this rejection of rational presentation in other types of media, like in modern art with the Avant-Garde movement, in cinema with the No Wave scene, in theater with vaudeville shows, and in music with genres like Noise and Industrial.
These are all categories of media that utilize the abstract, irrational and even the absurd for satire and experimentation. However, in the case of news media, when continuity and logic have been abandoned, what remains is but a symbol-image complex of information that inspires more confusion than clarity. Stripped of the narrative consistency needed for objective communication, the media is transformed into a burlesque that offers more distraction than insight. But at least this provides steady employment for an assortment of state-sponsored pundits and “experts” to explain things to their audience at the level of a 5th grader.
In the West, everyone may be entitled to an opinion, but these are opinions of a different order than in centuries past. It would be more accurate to call them “emotions”
rather than “opinions”, which would explain why they change from week to week.
The triumph of fiat opinion and conjecture over being informed and educated is the result of a longstanding disinformation campaign waged by the media. In fact, contemporary mass media has altered the very meaning of “being informed” by creating the illusion of knowing something, but actually leading its viewers away from knowing. The purpose of their messaging is, after all, to persuade, entertain or misdirect; anything but to actually inform or enlighten. It’s as if you were to pass an antique store with a “Laundry Done Here” sign in the window and came back with your dirty clothes to be washed, only to find that the sign was merely a store item for sale. But if challenged, the store, much like the media, can always take cover of behind a screen of plausible deniability: “Sorry, but this an antique store. We sell all kinds of things here “.
During the 20th century, the world came to be dominated by non-interactive forms of media: movies, radio, recorded music and TV, where audiences consume content from a distance after it had already been created. But in centuries past, entertainment was largely interactive, where the performers and audience formed a unit that observed one another, as seen in theater, live music and sports. The cheers, boos or even the silence of the audience exerted a shaping power on whatever drama, race or song was being performed, and this interplay between an entertainer and his crowd was a given. People from such an era would look upon our current-day media usage as nothing but an aberration. One can only imagine how a class of students from that time would react if today’s mediasphere was described to them: “Excuse me teacher, you mean a time is coming when people will just sit there and watch a screen? They couldn’t do anything else? Won’t they feel lonely or alienated?”, and the teacher would respond, “Yes child, they would probably go mad.
But this kind of development is just a theory. No-one believes it will actually happen”.
As dissatisfaction grows with the failed promises of capitalist utopia in the West, there is much talk of escaping the zombified consumer existence by way of Eastern-flavored enlightenments. The ever-growing popularity of yoga, New Age ideology, and the wellness movement are examples of this. But there can be no enlightenment for a society which lacks the means to detect the lies fed to it. The thought of such advancement is laughable, particularly when establishment media controls the public realm, an otherwise impossible feat had not the public allowed them to twist reality through the images broadcast into people’s homes. But alas, all that the citizenry demand in exchange for their subjugation is their continued and sacred right to mount protest in the form of scathing polemics against media consolidation, vigorous public debates about free press, and resounding cries for policy reform, none of which get to the root of their problems. This is why the notion of real revolt seems ridiculous to the current ruling elites.
Ours is the age of entertainment, advertisement and publicity, where the hunger for trivialities outstrips any desire for answers. Even when nothing much is happening in our immediate environment, there’s always marketing going on for something or another in the form of commercials, ads and billboards. A few people here or there may be discerning enough to see through the veil of such a circus, but the rest simply remain uncritical for the good and sufficient reason that they have other things to do. Having been fed on a steady media diet of fake news, they live in a perpetual state of doubt anyway, from which the only escape is to be indifferent. Ignorance becomes empowering, as it enables people to go about their lives in peace. In a time where the mainstream media publishes endless stupidities and falsehoods with impunity, and people owe more to their illusions than to their knowledge, it turns out that the learned man is defined not just by what he knows, but also by what he ignores.
greekspeek for thought
You don’t need tyranny to police a society.
You can create a self-policing society through plausible deniability by taking control of the education system and mass media.
What you see being reported in the mainstream media is the result of deals that were made decades ago between the elite classes.
By the time the events have transpired and the mainstream are talking about it, new deals have already been made.
That’s why the media can only be reactive, whilst the government and corporations lie to you about what’s going on.
The stuff they’re selling you in academia and media is just garbage.
But hey, it doesn’t mean that if you were stranded in a landfill that you wouldn’t find a way to survive. You could still find edible garbage to live off. So even in a society full of trash, at least your curiosity will keep you alive.
There’s a new story every week that dominates public attention, so you only get a narrow view of things. It’s like looking at the ground while walking instead of looking up.
How do you expect to see anything ?
To the people who point fingers and call me a hypocrite because they caught me watching CNN that one time: just because I use the public bathroom doesn’t mean I set up camp there with my sleeping bag and toothbrush. I might chose to see what the media puts out from time to time, but that’s very different from people who rely on it for their worldview.
If the news is fake, imagine how bad history must be.