the Informed

How To Conquer The Mainstream Media & Other Life-Saving Tips


Most reasonably intelligent people know that the mainstream media outlets are generally full of crap. Disinformation, manipulative advertising, Hollywood propaganda, so-called reality TV, unparalleled news bias, the list goes on and on. But it's just too easy and so much fun to point this out that I would be remiss if I didn't begin by illuminating this reality of modern life with a few juicy examples. To begin, let's take a look at one of my favourites, the fact that, according to this study by Fairleigh Dickinson University, FOX News viewers are actually less informed than people who watch no news at all.

Sadly, this isn't all that shocking, but it should be unacceptable in our culture, especially at a time when revealing the truth should be our highest priority. If we continue to manipulate public opinion, how are we to tackle the massive problems we currently face? One doesn't have to wander too far into the intellectual quagmire to figure out why FOX News viewers are so poorly informed. The obvious and (in fact) true answer is that they are being fed disinformation on a constant basis and that they are buying into it en masse. The blatant manipulation this particular network exercises on its viewing public is beyond shameful and their downright unethical approach to what they refer to as news has proven itself to be (at least to any reasonably enlightened person) simply a tool for forwarding an agenda. But all of this doesn't even remotely begin or end with FOX News, unfortunately. No, these examples of propaganda run throughout the history of media itself. The offices of Hannity, O'Reilly and Limbaugh are very much open for business and taking new customers all the time. 

To cite a few other examples, take a look at this video entitled 'body evolution' where a woman is transformed into a 'more perfect' version of herself, a version that is not only unrealistic but unattainable - and this sells products. But the sad reality is that diseases such as body dismorphic disorder are significantly on the rise in our culture, with teens and children now seeking plastic surgery. Another example is the now common practice of disseminating a "local" news story to virtually all local news outlets across the US. Conan O'Brien has done a great job of illuminating this practice and its absurdity. And let's not forget the mother of all modern lies retold ad infinitum by the media: the justification for the War in Iraq.

The Iraq War was the biggest issue for people of my generation in the West. It was also the clearest case, in my living memory, of media manipulation and the creation of a war through ignorance. - Julian Assange

So what to do in this sea of lies, disinformation and ignorance? How does one seek the truth and find objective news, avoid the manipulative effects of advertising and live in a world unpolluted by bad information and propaganda? In fact, the US government even has gone so far as to lift its propaganda ban, thus making propaganda legal again. You read that right. To combat these forces, for starters an awareness of the effects of media consumption is critical to taking back control of your informational environment. Acknowledge that we have been exposed and trained by this stuff since we were very young, and it has shaped our world-view in such profound ways that we cannot even begin to grasp the scope of its effects on us. Watch less (or no) TV, do not watch FOX or CNN (unless you seriously dissect their propaganda) and avoid crap Hollywood movies and advertising. Remove the advertising you see while surfing the Internet and read alternative news sources (see the sidebar of this blog for a few great examples). There are countless ways to tailor the information you receive, but you need to be in the driver's seat. Be aware of the filter bubble going on throughout your Internet use and use tools to prevent your information from being filtered by someone else. Understand that, in an era of unprecedented information access, we live in a world where 30% of Republicans in the US still think Obama is a Muslim. You can be sure that that 30% are not critical of their news sources. Don't be one of them.

With all of this media bashing, however, let's not forget the benefits of media, as we all bask in its warm, glowing, warming glow. There are TV programs that I like to watch as a guilty pleasure and they bring me joy, comfort and a much-needed diversion sometimes, and I cherish that - but I remain critical. We all need to develop a critical mind when it comes to intelligently ingesting media and having it serve us. Noam Chomsky famously lives in his own version of a filter bubble, self imposed and isolated from the mainstream media, but he's managed to make this serve him in a very profound way, and as a result, he is able to critique our society in a much more objective way. If employed in intelligent and thoughtful ways, you can also create your own tailored filter bubble, created by a judicious use of technology and by taking control of the information you feed your mind. The information of the world all has an opinion, an agenda of its own, and we now live in a world where it is our individual duty to understand the source of the voice telling the story and be critical of our media, in all its forms. 

Popular culture is a place where pity is called compassion, flattery is called love, propaganda is called knowledge, tension is called peace, gossip is called news, and auto-tune is called singing. - Criss Jami

Truth comes to those who seek it, and this cannot be done through the passive consumption of media. It has to be done via a paradigm shift in your consciousness, like all of the positive shifts you will have to make to survive in this proverbial information war. The thoughts that shape who we are, are shaped by what we consume. In the book Connected, the authors state the case for the incredibly strong degree to which we are influenced by those closest to us in our social circles. This research speaks to the fact that as we are heavily influenced by those around us, so too are we influenced by information and media. Take back control of your mind and your thoughts - it's the best weapon you have against tyranny.

Illegitimi non carborundum (don't let the bastards grind you down)

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