Anyone who dismisses the power of the media is a clueless moron.
I know how that sounds, but I believe it. It's so easy to just brush away the media and say, "oh, that's just TV." Well of course that's true, it is just TV, but TV has changed a lot, and it's only now that the real, hard core impact of its influence is starting to be felt.
I'm not talking about body image or weight or race or any of the externals. This isn't a fashion discussion. Rather, there's something deep going on here that disturbs me greatly. A lot of people would recoil at the word "brainwashing," but I'm just going to take a risk and use that word, and mean it.
THIS+ article in Salon.com states it clearly: TV, like tranquilizers, have a pacifying effect on the viewer, which then ebbs away once the TV is turned off, again, like a drug. "Kubey and Csikszentmihalyi’s survey also revealed that: The sense of relaxation ends when the set is turned off, but the feelings of passivity and lowered alertness continue. Survey participants commonly reflect that television has somehow absorbed or sucked out their energy, leaving them depleted. They say they have more difficulty concentrating after viewing than before" (Levine).
Where does that leave us? As a mass of people who are routinely zapped of energy, less able to concentrate, and thus more prone to passively letting the world march past. In a way, we are an ADD culture, easily bored, eager to move from one headline to the next, regardless of the serious human interest. How many people are already bored with the disappeared Malaysian airplane? How fast did people tire of the story about the Ben-Ghazi cover-up? How soon will people get bored with Putin's incursions into Ukraine? Just flip the channel back to the Kardashians, and all is well...for now.
In normal conditions, when a dictator takes over the country, the first to be arrested and exiled and killed are often the professors and teachers, people who can think critically. But with professors and teachers watching as much TV as their students, might that change? It's ironic, because education is so focused on helping students to develop their critical thinking skills, yet our culture seems to be against the individual's ability to think critically? And why do we need to think critically when we can just access an app or headlines on Yahoo or somewhere else? When the media saturates our every waking moment, who even has the ability to know what critical thinking is? Who cares any more?
Levine continues: "TV keeps us indoors, and it keeps us from mixing it up in real life. People who are watching TV are isolated from other people, from the natural world—even from their own thoughts and senses. TV creates isolation, and because it also reduces our awareness of our own feelings, when we start to feel lonely we are tempted to watch more so as to dull the ache of isolation. Television is a “dream come true” for an authoritarian society. Those with the most money own most of what people see. Fear-based TV programming makes people more afraid and distrustful of one another, which is good for an authoritarian society depending on a “divide and conquer” strategy."
Entertainment is based on the idea of getting pleasure from a show, a concert, a film, something that gives us visual and auditory stimulation and satisfaction. Unlike reading, entertainment lets us sit back and enjoy, passively letting the show wash us over unthinkingly. All we have to do is feel and react, and not think or assess or judge. In that moment, that's fine, but living for that? Letting everything come down to that? That is something else entirely--that is a dangerous way to live because now, there are no expectations other than a good time and a fun show.
The resulting "group think" is destructive because it asks no questions, nor does it make many demands. It just asks you to go along. Stay passive, let the show do the work, accept all you see, and don't disagree. And of course, follow them on Twitter!
God help us all...
witty; cunning; crafty
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