Why, oh why, do the major media outlets make me feel so angry? I seriously become ill while watching the news. Please tell me what is causing this ailment. Is it because no one is really honest? Maybe. Perhaps it is the complete and total lack of understanding about identifying root causes? Possible. How about the sensationalizing of the frivolous to keep the general public in the dark? Most likely. Or maybe I’ve just completely lost touch with the rest of humanity who “gets it” and I don’t? I’m actually inclined to think the latter has a high probability of being true at this point.
Please someone tell me that I’m leaping to wild conclusions and tell me how helpful the news actually is. Please tell me that people like Bill O’Reilly or Rachel Maddow aren’t manipulating me with their not too subtle use of paraphrasing and provocative terms. Please tell me how all of their polls and statistics are always, completely, totally accurate.
Tell me I’m the one who just isn’t listening well enough and I will be fine with that.
Because as it stands now, when I talk to many people, they just seem so uninformed. It does not matter how much they watch their respective news source either. It is like they hear the words and can repeat it verbatim, but have no concept of what they mean. There is so much information out there and most of it is distributed in such a way so that the general public sees it, but doesn’t have any way of processing it into anything useful. The various news sources do it this way on purpose I’m sure. The news is on 24/7 talking about some of the most ridiculous things or just repeating the same stories day after day. It boggles my mind how I can read about an important event happening somewhere or incredible technology, yet when I turn on the news they are still talking about an election a month later and squeezing every last drop from a trivial issue. This desire to continually direct their audiences’ attention and prejudices toward a specific target never seems to serve the purpose of enlightenment. It only destroys the bonds created by civil discourse and understanding.
They no longer want you to understand the world you live in, just the role you are supposed to have in the world they created.
It is like the great movie “Idiocracy”; here is a segment from the movie to illustrate my point of what we have become:
It’s funny right? It stops being so funny when you realize how true that scene becomes when applied to daily interactions. It kinda becomes a bit depressing.
It seems to me that the natural response to this “news” problem is already under way, though not quick enough in my opinion. With the continuing rise of shows like “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” , it appears many Americans and people around the world probably feel just as I do. I am also aware of the irony of how a major media outlet produces such shows. But, how many of those people who feel like I do see through the comedic aspect of the shows? How many realize the social commentary taking place about the massive schism between those who produce the information and those being informed. We are a small but growing minority. Even though these types of shows are coming from the media, they are at least beneficial and we need more of them.
As good as shows like Jon Stewart and Colbert are, they don’t solve the problem. Most of the alternative news outlets are parodies like “The Onion”, which point out how dumb the media is, but don’t really address the problem. I believe there needs to be a fundamental change to the way news is delivered. How about reporting news instead of commenting constantly? How do we hold the people who manufacture information accountable? Whether it be our government or a media mogul, something needs to be done. Sure we can not watch their programs or fact check them until we are blue in the face, but really, they just keep on doing the exact same thing. By no means do I want government intervention on the press, but we definitely need more grassroots education when it comes to deciphering the news and propaganda.
So, do we turn to the Internet for our news? The Internet is amazing and filled with more information than one could learn in a hundred lifetimes, but at the same time littered with hearsay, hate, and half-truths. How do we find that balance that we seek? Can we really break through with things like Wikipedia, or are we constantly going to be manipulated by the media? I honestly don’t have the answer to all these questions, but at least I’m thinking about them. And I believe, that is a good start in understanding where we can go from here.
I challenge everyone who reads this to examine the influence of the news media in their lives for a month and purposely look for alternatives, opposing views, and other educational sources to counter that influence. Let me know what you find out about yourself. Let’s see what we can change in the social discussion going on right now.