I need you to clear your thoughts. Remove all distractions, torments and dreams. Free your mind and abandon everything that you have ever learned or assumed to be true. For the next thousand words or so you are a clean slate. You have no beginning; nor end. You are an infinite entity uninhibited by prejudice and fear. It’s difficult isn’t? It’s hard to remove all the subjectivity and partisanship that we have allowed into our lives. But this little experiment will be worth the effort. Trust me. I’m a writer.
I want you to think about the evening news. Close your eyes if you have to. Imagine the reporters and journalists on your television screen. They are immaculately dressed in the finest of clothing as they sit at their desks or report live from the field. They look fantastic. Enviable even. One must feel so accomplished standing in a beautiful dress or designer labeled suit as they deliver the current affairs.
But looks can be deceiving. When you turn your attention away from their image and the branding presented to you; when you focus instead on what they are saying, are you still impressed with what you now hear? Death, destruction, and sacrifice reign supreme. A man has murdered his wife. Another has shot five people dead in a robbery attempt. Millions are starving. Wars are tearing the humanity from the clutches of nations. Another child has become radicalized. Every heinous report is accompanied by depictions of broken windows, police units and fractured lives splashed across the screen in a macabre slideshow.
Ruin and woe are threaded so effortlessly through each story that you have become desensitized. The damaged lives and senseless murders of others have been reduced to nothing but sound bites and footnotes that barely even pierce the veil of your subconscious. You have probably never noticed how repulsive the evening news is. Until now.
Every day the media tells us to trust no one and fear everything. Ruin and woe make the world go round. Or so we’re told. But are things really as horrible as we have been led to believe? Is the man whose religion differs from yours actually plotting your demise? Are governments truly lying to us about everything? Is every man, woman and corporation really your enemy?
…The short answer is no. The guy who lives next door and practices alternative beliefs doesn’t give a shit about you. He’s too busy trying to live his own life. The shear logistics required for a government to deceive its people make it nigh on impossible for them to cultivate devious conspiracies against us on a daily basis. And no one actively wants to hate you.
We’ve merely been misled and misinformed in the media’s quest to win our attention. Outlets like current affairs programs, tabloids, and circulars are businesses. As a business their primary objective is to accrue viewers. More viewers equal more money, and big business learned long ago that the human brain is attracted to two things: violence and obscenity.
The world seems to be becoming increasingly grim because the media started exposing the general public to violence, obscenity and disorder through events like the Vietnam War with the intent of providing a genuine insight into the perils of a conflict on foreign shores. But their pure intentions became distorted when marketing began capitalizing on society’s interest in the darker side of human nature. Nowadays media organizations are competing for viewers by continuously pushing one another to feature increasingly graphic and repulsive imagery, and we the viewer have become so bombarded with grotesque content that we have stopped seeing beauty in the world.
Before we go any further I feel like we need to take a quick break so that I can issue a disclaimer… I am a writer first and foremost. I’m not a scholar or leading expert in the media industry. My thoughts that are being presented here should by no means be taken as gospel. If you don’t like my opinions, or don’t agree with them, that’s fine by me.
Alright, let the controversy begin.
The media has undergone a metamorphosis. What was once a medium designed to communicate messages of interest and entertainment has now become a rabid beast hungry for consumer attention. While it is fair to say that we have become desensitized to violence, we have also created a world in which we form judgment and beliefs based off of targeted stories and biased opinion. We believe that the Muslim man who lives down the street is an extremist because we are told to mistrust. We believe that foreign parties are radicalizing children because we are exposing them to adult concepts long before they have the mental capacity to develop rational thoughts and understand their own emotional and chromosomal makeup. And we believe that it is our right to question everything, but we are being led to ask the wrong goddamn questions.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule. There are horrible people in the world. It’s inevitable that with a world population of over seven billion people that there are bound to be a few bad eggs. But the murderers, the rapists, the terrorists, extremists and extortionists are a minority. They are not the majority that you have been led to believe…
…So let’s start over…
…I want you to clear your mind again. I want you to empty your thoughts and bias just like you did at the start of this post and try to imagine that you are watching the nightly news again. Picture the anchors, the journalists and field reporters. They’re still dressed immaculately; they still smile at you with brilliant white teeth. But this time they’re telling tales of a different tune.
Instead of reporting that a man of Islamic decent has been arrested on terror related charges, they are instead talking of the Sheikh who has encouraged his community to aid the homeless. Instead of a story reporting that a man murdered his wife, there is one describing a man who loves his partner so dearly that he has professed his love with a hundred red roses. Instead of a child being accosted for attempting to carry a weapon onto a classroom, they are praising a school for their academic and sporting excellence.
Imagine how different our outlook on the world would be if the media presented stories designed to expand our minds and highlight the better angels of our nature rather than beating war drums and chanting tales of ruin and woe. If you knew of the wonderful deeds that they had completed, would you still be so quick to judge your fellow man? Would you still be so afraid of everyone and everything? And do you believe that we would be plagued with the same issues currently eroding the fabric of our society if we focused on positivity and progression rather than fear and violence?
I’m not saying that we need to be ignorant. We should never turn a blind eye to the one percent of mankind that choses to hate and destroy rather than love. There is no heaven without hell and without those heinous acts of brutality and violence we could never truly appreciate just how lucky we are to be alive. But we shouldn’t allow that same one percent to rule us through fear. The media has undergone a metamorphosis and led us to a horrible state of misinformation and hysteria. And if they can transform once, then surely they can do it again. So isn’t it about time they evolved into a medium of integrity and human decency once more?